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This monthly policy briefing covers our latest report on collaboration and public sector reform, government evaluations of social impact bonds, and overcoming challenges in impact bonds. If you are interested in getting these updates each Monday sign up at 

GO Lab 

GO Lab Are we rallying together? Collaboration and public sector reform – We have just launched our report that looks are how local authorities are joining forces with their local communities  to overcome complex social problems. It explores 10 cases across the UK and looks at why and how they collaborate, and considered how we measure success and demonstrate accountability. Please read and let us know what you think. The GO Lab

GO Lab Social Outcomes Conference 2019: call for papers – We are excited to be hosting the Social Outcomes Conference 2019 on 5-6th September. Our annual conference will look at how we can improve policies based on robust evidence and achieve better outcomes for the most vulnerable. We want to invite you to submit abstracts and proposals. If you are a researcher, policymaker, commissioner, provider or another stakeholder we would love to hear from you. The deadline is 7th May. GO Lab 

GO Lab Struggling local councils are getting citizens to help deliver vital services – We’ve written an opinion piece on 'Are we rallying together?' to accompany the release of our report. Apolitical 

Government programmes 

Report Fair Chance Fund evaluation: final report – The Fair Chance Fund was a 3 year social impact bond programme with the aim to improve accommodation, education and employment outcomes for homeless young people aged 18-24. The evaluation found that the outcomes achieved exceeded expectations and projects displayed creativity in supporting the service users. It is less clear whether the FCF supported the development of the social investment market, but all projects said they would consider SIB funding in the future. The conclusions of the report at on page 83. Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government

At the GO Lab we have updated our Projects Database to reflect these findings. View 'Fair Chance Fund' for more details on each SIB involved. 

Press release Transforming Rehabilitation model for probation is irredeemably flawed - The Chief Inspector of Probation, Dame Glenys Stacey argues that the current model for the delivery of probation services in England and Wales needs a major rethink in order to create a system that is fit for the future. She argues that the sector is: 1) failing to meet performance targets, 2) probation profession has been diminished, 3) there has been a drift away from practice informed by evidence. Justice Inspector, Gov UK 

Written Statement Troubled Families Annual Report - James Brokenshire, Secretary of State for Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government makes a short statement. It’s a quick read that sets out what the report covers, such as TR reduced the proportion of children going into care by a third. Parliament UK 

Impact bonds

Opinion Five ways for social impact bonds to live up to their potential – This piece by Akinchan Jain from the World Bank outlines his perspective on SIBs and what has been holding them back. The piece offers a very positive take on SIBs. A knowledge of SIBs is required to fully understand this article. Apolitical 

Opinion How to overcome three common challenges of social impact bonds - Rachel Wooldridge, Resarch Manager from Ecorys UK shares her insights on the challenges that commissioners face when developing SIBs. The main three are: 1) not knowing enough, 2) getting buy-in from key people, 3) balancing different stakeholders’ needs

Academic publication Business models for sustainable finance: the case study of social impact bonds – This academic work completed in Italy is an exploratory study that looks at SIBs within the framework of business models of sustainable finance. They find different levels of collaboration in SIBs (full, partial of low) and argue that a fully collaborative SIBs model may stand a better chance of achieving the expected social impacts. A dense read, but skip to page 11 for the findings and 16 for the discussion.   

Opinion Can development impact bonds transform education? - Last weekend there was a Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai, UAE.  They discussed development impact bonds and how they are gathering momentum with four having been launcehd so far. Note - This article is for Devex members, you can sign in to read. Devex  

Blog Navigating the complexities of social impact bonds for the SDGs – This blog by the UNDP looks at the potential of social impact bonds and how they relate to the SDGs. They recognise the hype and outline the challenges involved, such as heavy transaction costs, the time it takes to close the deal, attribution challenges. It also makes reference to the new knowledge sharing platform which the GO Lab are part of. ‘As the market grows, especially in developing countries, it will be critical to observe progress closely, so that valuable lessons can be learned on where, and in what circumstances, these financing tools can be most useful.’ UNDP

News Educate Girls has become an audacious project – The world’s first development impact bond (DIB) is reaching new heights as it has just been named an Audacious Project, the first organisations in Asia to be named this. "The Audacious Project invites visionary social entrepreneurs and non-profits to dream bigger and to share those dreams into viable and sustainable multi-year plans." To understand more about what this means you can also read an interview with the Founder and Executive Director of Educate Girls. Audacious Project 

News New Abu Dhabi strategy to support social enterprise and volunteering - Abu Dhabi looks to build its social impact sector and will develop a social impact bond. The Ma’an Authority for Social Contribution has been set up by President Sheikh Khalifain February to promote a sense of civil duty in the emerite. This article highlights the high level vision, but there are few details about the SIB. The National

Innovating and improving the public sector

Opinion If we want innovation to flourish, we have to evaluate it – This article looks at the importance of evaluation and uses Denmark as an example. It argues that we are missing out on firm knowledge about the value of innovation and we need to diversify the purpose of evaluation work. A quick read from Apolitical

Event PSTA - Helping each other out in a crisis – The Public Service Transformation Academy (PSTA) are hosting their annual conference on 18th June (note – this was originally on May 23rd but the date has changed) This is the leading platform for bringing together though leaders and practitioners across public service transformation. The GO Lab are involved in break-out sessions and it would be great to see you there. PSTA 


Opinion Make or buy – The debate over outsourcing continues after the Government published the Outsourcing Playbook >> the Labour Party promised to ban outsourcing for vulnerable people >> Reform made an appeal to this and published Please Procure Responsibly. This short article argues for a position that is not ideological or based on values. Local Gov

Opinion Labour’s outsourcing policy risks creating more problems – This opinion piece argues that Labour is right to identify outsourcing failures but there are challenges in doing so: 1) Government lacks capacity to bring services back in house, 2) Bringing services back may not improve them, 3) decisions on how to deliver services should be based on evidence. Institute for Government 
Report Please procure responsibly: the state of public service commissioning – This report provides an overview of public service commissioning in England. It identifies areas of weak or underperforming elements in the commissioning cycle that have led to failings and suggests potential solutions. Reform 
There report has been covered in sector news, such as Civil Service World and Local Gov

Opinion Jacqui McKinlay: Governance will be central to our paradigm - Jacqui McKinlay is Chief executive of the Centre for Public Scrutiny. They seek to promote and support excellence in governance and scrutiny.  She argues that ‘the market mindset took us a long way. But it’s time to move on.’ Note - This is a subscription site, you can sign in for a few free articles a month. Local Government Chronicle 

Impact investing  

Opinion The impact investment fund that operates as a non-profit - Impact investment fund Beyond Capital invests in early-stage social enterprise in India and east Africa. CEO, Eva Yazhari explains the advantages and challenges of operating as a non-profit while pursuing market-rate financial returns for its investors. Pioneers Post 

Report Global impact investing market soars above $500bn – A report from the Global Impact Investing Network has found that there are more than 1300 impact investors across the world. ‘The results of this study underscore the momentum of impact investing, but also the need for continued growth across the responsible investing landscape if we are to address global challenge like those outlined in the Sustainable Development Goals’. Pioneers Post 

Opinion Social investment funds with a conscience - This article looks at how cross sector ecosystems in Japan use impact investing to solve the country’s greatest social challenges while generating financial returns. Stanford Social Innovation Review

Opinion Why is it hard to attract private capital to fight against malaria? - An interesting read on funding projects to fight AIDs, TB and malaria and whether impact investing can help raise funds to tackle these problems. They outline the challenges, such as the free-rider problem, and how development impact bonds and other approaches seek to tackle this. Financial Times