Today the latest report for the Big Lottery Fund’s Commissioning Better Outcomes (CBO) Fund Evaluation is published. The CBO Fund aims to support the development of more social impact bonds (SIBs) in England, and the evaluation is tracking the impact of these SIBs over their lifetime.
The report provides an overview of the evaluation findings to date, during the first two years of activity, In this blog post James Ronicle, Senior Research Manager at Ecorys, who is leading the evaluation, summarises what the report is saying.
As of September 2016, the Commissioning Better Outcomes Evaluation was 2 years into its 9 years. With each year, we look back on our research to date, draw this together the make conclusions and make recommendations for the future.
The report finds that those involved in SIBs confirm some of their potential delivery benefits are being achieved: they not only bring in upfront capital to fund services, they embed an outcomes-focused culture in service providers and allow for more flexible service delivery and stronger performance management. There is also an appetite from other investors, commissioners and service providers to get involved in SIBs. However, what is not yet known is whether this translates into better outcomes. SIBs also require additional resource compared to a fee-for-service contract to develop and deliver; what is also unknown at present is whether the benefits of a SIB justify the additional resource.
The report draws on the main findings from a number of pieces of work undertaken for the evaluation throughout 2014 to 2016. Including:
- literature review;
- stakeholder consultations and surveys;
- ‘in-depth review’ evaluation reports produced for the Ways to Wellness and Reconnections SIBs; and
- case study report focussed on a potential SIB in North Somerset.