Speech and language therapy delivers £765 million in benefits to UK taxpayers

30 November 2021

Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists launches Giving Voice campaign by highlighting the opportunity for SLT to deliver savings to the UK Government 

Findings published today (30 November 2021) by Matrix Evidence (Matrix) have found that speech and language therapy delivers an estimated net benefit to the UK economy of £765 million.

The findings, which coincide with the launch of the Giving Voice campaign by the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT), highlight how speech and language therapy offers significant cost savings to the NHS and wider government, by avoiding other clinical interventions and improving life prospects.

One example of this is that speech and language therapy for stroke survivors having difficulty with swallowing saves the National Health Service £13.3 million in costs for further treatment and support every year.

However, despite the proven cost effectiveness of SLT, a separate survey by the RCSLT of speech and language therapists across the UK has found that 84.4 per cent of therapists are being asked to reduce the scope of their services, with cuts to services of between five and thirty per cent in many areas.

One example is in Nottinghamshire County where, amongst other cuts, all speech and language therapy for children over the age of six with autism and no other speech, language and communication needs has been stopped.

The Matrix study looked at four of the most common conditions which are treated by SLT: patients suffering swallowing problems following a stroke; stroke survivors having difficulty with communication; children with speech and language impairment (SLI); and children with autism.

It found:

  • In the case of patients suffering swallowing problems following a stroke (dysphagia) the provision of speech and language therapy delivers £13.3 million in net savings to the NHS, or a return of £2.30 for every £1 invested.
  • For stroke survivors having difficulty with communication (aphasia), such as speech, comprehension, reading and writing  the net benefits are equivalent to are £15.4 million, with a return of £1.30 for every £1 invested.
  • For children with SLI which is encountered by 203,000 UK school children in a given year, the annual net benefit to the UK is £741.8 million, with every £1 invested generating a return of £6.43 in enhanced lifetime earnings.
  • For children suffering from autism, the cost savings are £9.8 million and every £1 invested generates £1.46 in cost savings

Kamini Gadhok, Chief Executive of the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists commented: “The NHS needs to achieve £20 billion of savings by 2014 and Matrix’s study proves that SLT can help meet that challenge.

“This is why we are launching the Giving Voice campaign.  It will highlight the value of speech and language therapy for hundreds of thousands of individuals each year, as well as the overall  benefit to the taxpayer.  We will also work with commissioners, including local authorities, to help them make the right investment decisions when it comes to supporting the needs of their local population and meeting their budgetary targets.”

As a first step, the RCSLT has called on the Government and local services to safeguard early identification of speech, language and communication difficulties; and use available resources to ensure timely access to speech and language therapy for all those who need it.

Anne Milton MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Health said: “Speech and language  therapists make a significant contribution in tackling many  challenges and adding quality to life.  Helping people with speech,  language,  communication and swallowing  problems can have a far reaching effect  on  health, wellbeing, educational attainment, reablement and  reintegration into society. The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists’ Giving Voice campaign provides an ideal platform to champion the role of speech and language therapists.”

Other supporters of the campaign include: Rt. Hon. John Bercow MP and Rt Hon. Ed Balls MP as well as singer Gareth Gates and Mark Logue, grandson of the Lionel Logue the speech and language therapist to King George VI made famous in the hotly tipped new film The Kings Speech which stars Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush.

Further information on the campaign is available at www.GivingVoiceUK.org

Please read our Giving Voice fact sheet.

Notes to Editors

Interviews are available with:

Kamini Gadhok, chief executive of the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists
Kevin Marsh, chief economist of Matrix Evidence
There are also a number of speech and language therapists and their patients – ranging from children who have had treatment for SLI, to stroke survivors who have been treated for dysphasia or aphasia post stroke.

Please contact: 
Robin Matheou, PR Manager, RCSLT: 020 7378 3013
Ben Evetts, Weber Shandwick: 07879 614 941

About Giving Voice

Speech and language therapists work with a huge variety of people, from young children who stammer, to older people recovering from stroke and other brain injuries. They aim to help give them ‘voice’ by improving their communication abilities and addressing their swallowing, eating and drinking difficulties.

The Giving Voice campaign will highlight the benefits of speech and language therapy by telling the stories of those who have benefited from treatment and by encouraging people to communicate how therapy has benefited their lives. Visit: www.givingvoiceuk.org

About the RCSLT

The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) is the professional body for speech and language therapists in the UK and has more than 14,000 members. It is responsible for setting, promoting and maintaining high standards in education, clinical practice and ethical conduct. The RCSLT provides an information service and careers guidance about speech and language therapy. Please visit www.rcslt.org for further information on the RCSLT.

About Matrix Evidence

Matrix Evidence provides analysis for policy and management through operational research, economic appraisals, public policy evaluations, and evidence reviews of what works. The Evidence team comprises specialists from economics, medicine, law, psychology, social policy, statistics, education, and operational research. Most are postgraduates with either a doctorate or a master’s degree. Our in-house knowledge base is complemented by a wide network of sector specialists, overseen by our chief scientist, Professor Paul Dolan of the London School of Economics. This unique blend of multi-disciplinary expertise is grounded in a wealth of experience of working in and with government (both national and local), the third sector, and consultancy. Our goal is to deliver readily accessible reports that enable our clients to use evidence and analysis to inform their decisions.