When a policy is effective but voluntary, or when trialling a new approach, it is important to encourage take-up. This briefing summarises the evidence on improving take-up.
Our review of the evidence identified seven evaluations of interventions aiming to increase take-up. The most common interventions sent information to individuals who appeared eligible based on administrative screening or who were possibly in a target group. Information was generally provided about a programme’s benefits and eligibility rules. Some interventions also offered help with the application process. One study examined whether the content and layout of the letter sent to eligible individuals mattered.
Things to consider when implementing interventions to encourage take-up
- Providing information to target groups can be an effective and straightforward way to improve take-up.
- The information provided usually covered how to apply or the benefits of applying.
- In some cases, take-up increased more for some groups than others. It is important to monitor and evaluate how providing information affects take-up across groups.
- Helping people apply may increase take-up more than providing information only but will be more expensive.
- The evidence mainly considers take-up of benefits, financial aid and education by low-income households. A recent report suggests some positive effects from trials aimed at increasing the take-up of business support.
- How should information be communicated? In these studies, most of the information was provided by mail or phone. There is some evidence from other settings that text messages can effectively engage people in initiatives.
How effective are these interventions at improving take-up?
The evidence suggests that interventions to increase take-up are effective, with all of the studies reporting positive findings. This briefing, which you can download below, summarises the findings from each study.
Are they cost effective?
Only one study examined cost effectiveness. The study reports that it costs $1 to send a letter providing programme information. In that study, 11 per cent of eligible individuals enrolled in the programme compared to 6 per cent of the control group. That is, one additional eligible individual enrolled for every 20 letters, at a cost of $20 per enrollee. This study also compared the effect of providing information with providing phone-based application assistance. The assistance was more effective – with 18 per cent of those in this group enrolling – but was more costly. Each additional enrollee cost $60.