An evaluation of Social Impact Bonds in health and social care: interim report

Document type
Tan, Stefanie; Fraser, Alec; Giacomantonio, Chris
Policy Innovation Research Unit
Date of publication
1 March 2015
Health Services, Social Work, Social Care and Social Services
Social welfare
Material type

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This interim report describes the progress of the nine ‘Trailblazer’ projects that received funds from the Social Enterprise Investment Fund in 2013 to investigate the feasibility of setting up Social Impact Bond (SIB) projects in health and social care in England. The findings discussed in this report are based on a literature review of the SIB literature and on documentary analysis and qualitative interviews with key informants involved in UK SIB development undertaken between May and November 2014.

The literature review finds that little empirical data about SIBs has been produced to date. There is a much larger academic, policy and ‘grey’ literature focused on the theoretical impacts of SIBs in funding and providing public services. Early empirical fieldwork data align closely with the existent literature.

Key findings from the documentary analysis and interviews in the nine Trailblazers are that SIBs require complex negotiations amongst multiple actors and organisations that have not worked together before. There may often be delays in agreeing SIB contracts and accessing requisite development funding to aid SIB development. SIB negotiations currently appear to have high transaction costs. Some health and social care SIBs are motivated by a desire to develop innovative services, whilst others focus on scaling up established service models delivered elsewhere or at smaller scale. SIBs have a significant impact upon how activity and outcome data are collected – frequently leading to more extensive and considered techniques of both data capture and analysis. However, informants expressed concerns around how to attribute outcomes to services.