Monitoring progress and measuring success
We will review progress annually to check that the strategy remains on track and to make any necessary adjustments in the light of experience or other developments.
Advice on high-level outcomes and measures of success, and on the most appropriate methodologies for monitoring, evaluating and reviewing these outcomes and measures, is an explicit part of our terms of reference.
Annual reviews ought to provide an effective mechanism for collectively holding to account all those charged with the delivery of aspects of the agreed strategy, celebrating success as well as identifying any areas where progress has been less satisfactory, or more effort is needed. We propose to conduct such reviews collaboratively, and to publish the results.
We will monitor progress on three levels:
- Outputs: Have the anticipated actions taken place, to time and budget? If not, why not?
- Outcomes: Have the actions had the effect expected at the time they were adopted as priorities? If not, why not and what lessons can be learnt from that?
- Overall impact: What effect is the strategy as a whole having on the extent of gambling-related harm?
There is a role for qualitative assessments alongside quantitative data. There may also be a set of activity indicators which it would be sensible to monitor annually. We will be undertaking further work on these issues, in consultation with others.
Measuring overall impact is an important task. It is to be hoped that the work commissioned by the Responsible Gambling Trust will provide a set of useful indicators of gambling-related harm. But achieving that may not be possible.
In the absence of other indicators, there is little alternative to continuing to use the number of problem gamblers as a proxy, despite the known limitations of this measure. It is possible through annual omnibus health surveys to track changes in the numbers of problem gamblers in England, Scotland and Wales (survey on gambling behaviour for Wales was undertaken separately by the Gambling Commission). As now, the figures will need to be interpreted with caution.
It will be difficult to distinguish the effects of implementation of the strategy from those of changes in wider economic and social determinants; and the number of problem gamblers could in theory move in the opposite direction to the volume of gambling-related harm.