SPACE - Value for Money of Social Protection and Humanitarian Cash Transfers in the Context of COVID-19 (September 2020)

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Social protection and humanitarian cash responses1 to the COVID-19 pandemic have emerged globally within the last few months, with more responses to come as the early phases of lockdowns have in many places been replaced with the beginnings of L-shaped recessions and on-going extreme economic hardship for tens of millions globally2 .

While the value for money (VfM) of social protection and cash transfers is already well established, and existing guidance already plentiful3 , the COVID-19 context raises some particular issues from a VfM perspective. This short note addresses these issues and is aimed at economists, social protection and humanitarian specialists within development partner organisations, as well as policy-makers in government – anyone tasked with designing social protection responses and assessing different options, whether in concept notes, business cases, or budget submissions.

The emphasis of this note is mainly on what is new with respect to VfM for social protection in the COVID-19 context. As such, this note assumes some familiarity with value for money concepts as they relate to social protection and cash.

The note is structured as follows:

• The note begins with a brief overview of the basic framework for assessing VfM;

• This is followed by a discussion on how to apply the VfM Framework to humanitarian and social protection responses to COVID, outlining major categories of cost and benefit streams that need to be considered, followed by a discussion on some of the key contextual issues that are likely to affect VfM in COVID, as well as a discussion of the trade-offs that need to be considered with reference to specific design elements; and

• A detailed table highlights the key VfM considerations that need to be considered for each of the components of a cash response across the delivery chain, unpacking the economy/efficiency, and effectiveness/equity considerations that need to be considered for coverage/targeting, adequacy, comprehensiveness, harmonisation/coordination, and accountability.