Giving Compass’ Take:
• Stefanie Tan, Alec Fraser, and Nicholas Mays explain how social impact bonds fall short because they are not written properly to address the issues they aim to fix.
• How can funders help to build better social impact bonds? Are there better ways to pay for outcomes?
• Learn about a social impact bond for girls education in India.
Social Impact Bonds (SIBs) are likely to become just one part of the search among policymakers, practitioners and researchers for viable approaches to outcomes-based commissioning of public services.
That’s what we conclude in our assessment of the SIBs Trailblazers in health and social care in England, set out in our recent report. Here we reflect on a number of issues raised in our own research and by previous blogs in the Policy Innovation Research Unit series on SIBs.
Testing, as yet unproven, outcome-based models of commissioning is important for public services, which are often clear about their goals but hamstrung by inadequate implementation including unsupportive funding mechanisms.
In health policy, for example, there is a goal to develop healthier citizens — not just to treat more sick people. Reaching that goal could reconcile the ambition to provide better health care with the need to control budgets. However, how can health and social care — and the other parts of the public sector — work together to achieve such goals? We lack a tried and trusted mechanism.
In this light, the focus that SIBs provide on developing outcomes-based approaches to commissioning services is welcome. SIBs in health and social care have the potential to break through institutional inertia and generate innovations in public service delivery.
At best, they can free and motivate front-line service provider staff to focus strongly on the needs and desired outcomes of their clients.
One of the issues holding back public service innovation, particularly in the last decade, has been a lack of funding for prevention as the demands of those currently in need of support have become ever more pressing. Amid austerity and lack of time for contract management, commissioners have found it difficult to think strategically.
In this context, SIBs have been welcomed by policymakers, commissioners and providers, drawn by the promise of upfront funds to develop services designed to improve outcomes in the longer term.
Read the full article about Social Impact Bonds by Stefanie Tan, Alec Fraser, and Nicholas Mays at Apolitical.
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