Using social impact bonds to deliver public services
Produced in partnership with John Atkinson
Using social impact bonds to deliver public services

The following Local Government practice note produced in partnership with John Atkinson provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Using social impact bonds to deliver public services
  • What is a social impact bond?
  • The process
  • Legal and procurement factors
  • The legal structure of a social impact bond contract
  • Sources of funding for social impact bonds
  • How have social impact bonds been used?
  • The way ahead

What is a social impact bond?

Social impact bonds (SIBs) were introduced as part of the Big Society initiative that was introduced by the Coalition Government when it came into being in 2010. They were designed to help reform public service delivery and were regarded as a means of improving the social outcomes of publicly funded services by making funding conditional on achieving results (payment by results).

The Centre for Social Impact Bonds describes the concept as follows:

‘Social impact bonds (SIBs) are a new tool that unlock private finance and public investment so that organisations which are best placed to tackle social problems can do so on a payment by results basis. SIBs enable commissioners to capture the expertise of the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) sector in tackling complex problems and only pay for success, they provide the VCSE sector with upfront capital to deliver payment by results contracts, and they enable social investors to use their money to achieve both a social impact and a financial return.’

The key elements of an SIB are:

  1. the contract between the service provider and the commissioner is based on the delivery of measurable outcomes, not on inputs or outputs

  2. in most cases the service provider will be voluntary sector body such as a charity or social enterprise, which will require up-front funding provided by and investor

  3. if

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