PERU’s work within social innovation revolves around two key areas: Social Impact Bonds (SIBs) and social investment, and public service reform.

PERU have partnered with the Sol Price Center for Social Innovation to collaborate on a number of projects and outputs relating to SIBs, including:

Commissioned by Bridges Outcomes Partnerships and underpinned by the findings of a previous evaluation of SIBs, PERU recently evaluated two outcomes-based contracts that employ strength-based and co-created ways of working with people: Kirklees Better Outcomes Partnership and Greater Manchester Youth Homelessness Prevention Project. Other SIB evaluations include Cornwall Frequent Attenders (formally Addaction) SIB and the Skill Mill SIB evaluation– a programme based in Newcastle to provide employment and training in outdoor work for young prolific offenders (aged 16-18).

In 2022, PERU led a collaborative evaluation of the ‘Everyone In’ social investment pilot in partnership with Big Society Capital and a range of other key stakeholders including frequent collaborator the Centre for Homelessness Impact. The pilot, launched by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government in 2021, aims to deliver over 200 move-on homes to rough sleepers and individuals at risk of homelessness. PERU’s evaluative strategy includes a feasibility study, a process evaluation, an impact evaluation and an economic evaluation. Crucially, PERU’s approach foregrounds the lived experiences of those accessing the scheme, and the interim findings of the evaluation are fed back into the pilot in order to inform its ongoing development.

PERU’s work on public service reform centres on the role of people in designing and delivering services fit for the new social and economic challenges we face in the twenty first century.

In a project funded by the European Union on Innovative Social Investment: Strengthening Communities in Europe (InnoSI) PERU led an large international consortium looking at different models of welfare reform and their impact on local services and local communities. It led to two publications, the book Implementing Innovative Social Investment: Strategic Lessons from Europe and the paper “Innovation and Social Investment Programs in Europe”. Both have been cited in other academic papers. In addition, the findings of the project were disseminated at a conference in Leuven.

PERU played a leading role in “Co-creation of Service Innovations in Europe (CoSIE)”. Running across 10 EU countries with 24 partners, the project involved co-designing, enacting and evaluating ten pilots to test and develop diverse methods of co-creation. A range of outputs were produced, including academic papers, community reporting videos and a roadmap to co-creation in public services. The pilots have already had a real-life impact in countries such as Finland, Estonia, Hungary and Spain. For instance, future funding has been secured for projects continue; co-creation methods have been implemented; the pilots have been highlighted as hugely successful and influenced further decision making.

The long-term impact of the work PERU does in social innovation can be evidenced by projects such as ‘An economic appraisal of the long-term costs and benefits of Young Carers services’, which is still influencing work today:

Social Media, Youth and Consumption of Cultural Spaces (LOCUS)

LOCUS explores young people’s interactions with cultural spaces through the lens of social media consumption. This project investigates to what extent young people’s social media consumption transforms cultural spaces to “performative spaces” and how young people’s engagement with such spaces enacts their digital identities.

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Evaluation of the Skill Mill Social Impact Bond (SIB)

Skill Mill is a social enterprise highly regarded for innovative approaches to addressing youth crime while bringing social and environmental benefits to communities.

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Evaluation of Social Impact Bonds that utilise strengths-based, co-created ways of working

PERU has been commissioned by Bridges Outcomes Partnerships to evaluation two social-outcomes contracts that are tackling homelessness using strengths-based and co-created ways of working with people.

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Social Impact Bonds 2.0: exploring the future of SIBs

To achieve their potential SIBs must be re-configured to become a catalyst for innovation, driving public sector reform and addressing new social and economic needs in the post-Covid world.

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The Big Life Group – Multi Modal Practitioner (MMP) evaluation

In partnership with the Ministry of Justice and the Barrow Cadbury Trust, PERU researchers are undertaking a qualitative study on the views and experiences of participants in the Chance to Change pilots.

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Doing gig work: Social implications of platform-based food deliveries

This research aims to study the platform-based gig economy and its reconfiguration of urban spaces by investigating the management, solidarity and resistance of cycle couriers in three European cities: Manchester, Lyon (France) and Cluj-Napoca (Romania).

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Doing Gig Work – Illustrated Material Published

Publication aims to raise awareness about the platform-based gig economy

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TASO ‘Impact Evaluation With Small Cohorts: Methodology Guidance’ published online

We have been working with TASO to develop guidance on evaluation with small cohorts and it is now available on their website. TASO’s focus is widening participation and improving student outcomes in higher education but the guidance can be applied to many areas of social policy evaluation.

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Are Social Impact Bonds an Innovation in Finance or Do They Help Finance Social Innovation?

Using data from the Social Finance UK Database and focusing on SIBs in the US and UK, Olson et al. evaluate whether the SIB approach aligns with the theoretical predictions of social innovation.

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Public Service Motivation? Rethinking What Motivates Public Actors

Chris O’Leary looks afresh at the reasons for prosocial work choices in the first substantive critique of Public Service Motivation (PSM).

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Theme: Social Innovation in Public Services – Innovating ‘Co-Creative’ Relationships Between Services, Citizens and Communities?

The authors report and analyse innovative co-creative initiatives involving marginalized and stigmatized groups (prisoners, urban racialized minorities, rural poor populations including Roma).

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Book Review: Local Social Innovation to Combat Poverty and Exclusion: A Critical Appraisal

This book review by Sue Baines provides an insight into the value that Oosterlynck, Novy and Kazepov's book brings to the field of social innovation.

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