Will it scale? Two London-based social impact bonds evaluated
- 14 December 2018
- Posted by: Helen Nicol
- Category: News
The social investment magazine Pioneers Post has published a short piece in which the evaluators of two recent social impact bond programs — both funded by the Big Lottery Fund’s Commissioning Better Outcomes programme — reflect upon the potential for SIBs to reform public services at scale.
The West London Zone SIB has been running since 2016, and had an emphasis on collaboration from the outset. As such, it is amenable to scaling up:
“Local authorities, schools and philanthropists were already funding services in the same part of London, but independently. The SIB however, incentivises them to bring the money together and share the cost of a new service, with joint representation in contract governance. This could arguably be done without a SIB, but involving a social investor meant that WLZ could simultaneously test this innovative commissioning model and an untried service, at low risk to those paying for it.”
Meanwhile, the HCT Independent Travel Training SIB has a more specific focus, aimed at supporting young people with special educational needs to travel independently on public transport:
“… [the] model in this case is simple: it involves only one local authority and one service provider, and measures one outcome. This means that it too can be replicated, and scaled.”
The evaluators go on to observe that both projects have “the potential to positively disrupt the status quo in public sector systems, and challenge assumptions about how services need to be financed to be sustainable in the long term”, but that “[the] jury is still out on whether the development teams’ aspirations and assumptions will come to fruition, for either WLZ or HCT”. Their essay can be read at Pioneers Post; alternatively, the full evaluations can be found on the Big Lottery Fund’s website.