We have been commissioned by Bridges Outcomes Partnerships to evaluate two of its social outcomes-based contracts. Kirklees Better Outcomes Partnership is funded through a Social Impact Bond that started in 2019. The service is for 6,000 people at risk of homelessness, but not necessarily at immediate risk. Greater Manchester Youth Homelessness Prevention Project is a social enterprise set up in partnership with the GMCA, to co-produce and deliver a 4 year programme targeting vulnerable young homeless people in Greater Manchester. These two homelessness services that are funded through a social investment approach and use co-created and strengths-based approaches to create more socially innovative services that have potential to drive wider public service reform. It will take place at two programmes.

What is the need?

About ten years ago the first Social Impact Bonds (SIBs) appeared. They are a form of outcomes-based commissioning where the finance needed to make the contract work comes, not from government or the service provider, but from third-party investors who provide up-front capital to organisations, often from the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector, to delivery services. The investors then receive their investment, plus a return, from local and/or central government if outcomes are achieved.

Research to date suggests that, while SIBs have had some success in bringing social investment into public services and have, in the process, transferred risk away from service commissioners and third sector providers, their record on innovation is less clear. The focus of this evaluation is to explore the potential for SIBs and outcomes-based contracts to deliver socially innovative solutions to pressing social needs, in this case different aspects of homelessness.

What are we doing?

This current study will build on previous research of Social Impact Bonds undertaken by PERU. It will explore co-created and strengths-based services to better understand barriers and facilitators to effective implementation experienced by people accessing services, front-line staff delivering such services and the organisations within which they are located. It will pay particular attention to the relationship between co-creation and strengths-based approaches and social innovation within the two services and wider public service reform within their local commissioning and delivery systems. Elements of the evaluation include:

  • A theory of change workshop
  • A review of available, project management data collected by the SIBs
  • A program of key informant interviews
  • Community Reporting with a small number of purposively selected people with lived experience, facilitated by People’s Voice Media.
  • An impact feasibility study

What will be the outcomes?

We will produce an interim report and a final report at the end of the project.

What are the timescales?

January 2021 – March 2022


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