The Department of Regional NSW is the central and economic agency responsible for regional issues, economies and communities. The Stronger Country Communities Fund (SCCF) is the NSW Government’s flagship social infrastructure fund for regional communities.
The SCCF aims to improve regional NSW’s liveability. It was established in 2016 under the Regional Growth Fund to deliver local social infrastructure projects to regional communities and has included four rounds from 2016 to 2021. Round One (2016) and Two (2017) comprised 999 community projects worth $285 million in total.
The department engaged us to assess the social and economic impacts of the investment and to explore the factors that supported or hindered positive outcomes for regional communities.
Leanne Perry, Manager Program Evaluation, Regional Development and Programs, Department of Regional NSW
Our evaluation included an Outcomes Evaluation and an Economic Evaluation. The Outcomes Evaluation explored the social and economic, intended and unintended, and direct and indirect impacts of the SCCF, while the Economic Evaluation assessed whether the investment delivered net economic benefits for NSW.
Our methodology involved triangulating data from these evaluations:
The Outcomes Evaluation showed that SCCF projects delivered project-specific and community-wide outcomes. It found that the SCCF:
The Economic Evaluation also indicated that Rounds One and Two of the SCCF provided an estimated net economic benefit of $520 million for NSW. 
Opportunities were identified to enhance project outcomes and to better support analysis of the SCCF. These include:
These recommendations will inform future rounds of the SCCF program and other regional growth programs administered by the Department of Regional NSW. The summary and full evaluation report is on the Department of Regional NSW website.
 This result refers to the base case scenario with a 7 per cent discount rate.
 A benefit-cost ratio of exactly 1.0 means it gives a 7 per cent real rate of return (not a breakeven return), so any number above 1.0 means a higher than 7 per cent return.