Here's an overview of all the sessions from Day 4 of the Social Outcomes Conference and links to all the recordings.
We began Day 4 by exploring the effect the social impact bond model, as opposed to the intervention, has on social outcomes. Lukas Hobi introduced the challenges in identifying the ‘SIB effect’ through his research on the Caritas SIB. Ruben Koekoek introduced a ‘results radar’ to assess partnerships for social outcomes, and made suggestions for good design. Next, Sarah Cooke discussed how SIBs supported flexibility, collaboration and accountability, and how it allows providers to place service users at the heart of service delivery. Franziska Rosenbach then presented early findings form the Kirklees SIB evaluation. We went on to discuss the nuances of potential SIB effects, and the need to be clear about what it is we are comparing SIBs to. Finally, we looked to the future, thinking about what further research is needed to better grasp the role of the SIB model
Concurrently, we explored accessibility and responsiveness of services for vulnerable groups. Leon Feinstein opened by emphasising that we need to understand vulnerability and complexity and to support beneficiaries we need the right mix of statistics, data and the human experience. Jen Warner and Steve Hindle shared more about the world's first SIB focused on HIV, and highlighted the importance of stories and language to reduce stigma. Rajnish Prasad looked to the challenge of support rural and hard to reach populations in Rajasthan, India. Rob Murdoch argued that a SIB should be a mix of user voice (social), clear metrics (impact) and trust (bond). Then Richard Thickpenny and Tom Dixon looked how to support refugees integrate into British society, and how you need to look at individual need.
Teasing out the SIB effect: emerging evidence and practical insights
My way or the highway
In the afternoon we joined the session 'Pricing 'value': where to draw the line between incentive alignment and commoditisation?' We brought together health economists, a political philosopher, and a professor in city & regional planning to tackle this complex question. Adrian Towse explored what paying for value is, introducing QALYs (quality adjusted life years) and political decisions that need to be made. Rachel Silverman took this discussion further and looked at options and implications for a Covid-19 vaccine. Mildred moved the conversation to social services and argued that there is not always a need for markets and innovations, we need the public and political will. Eg.Universal preschool education in the US is critical and we know that, but we just don't pay for it properly. Finally we heard from Jo Wolff who offered a perspective from his years applying political philosophy to complex problems.
For our final session of SOC20 we were joined by Sir Paul Collier and Alnoor Ebrahim for 'Reimagining social change for the post Covid-19 world'. Paul opened the conversation by arguing that our conception of ‘economic man’ as greedy, lazy and stupid, and the resulting ways in which we have structured capitalism, is not just harmful – it is wrong. Instead, we are hard-wired to be part of a community, and so are also driven by common purpose. The role of leaders, therefore, is to be a “Communicator-in-Chief”, winning the trust of their teams and coordinating them around an appropriate purpose.
Alnoor picked up on these themes in relation to his work on impact investors and social enterprise, and the role they might play in realising public commons. In particular, he highlighted the importance of ecosystem strategies to social change when faced with broad systemic dysfunctions. However, investors are currently not set up to adopt such strategies, and there are three principle barriers to overcome: profit, portfolios and politics. If these issues can be properly addressed, then investors can play their role in moving us toward global commons.
Following a lively discussion and plenty of questions from the audience, we asked for a call to action from each of our speakers. Sir Paul asserted that we all have a domain of agency, within our jobs or where we live, and we must use it, with the understanding that purpose always trumps profit. Alnoor highlighted the role that education can play in realising these goals, arguing that by adopting a system-level conversation as part of pedagogy, professional development schools can ensure those who go to work in a variety of fields can have a common language for cross-sectoral approaches.
Re-imaging social change in the post-Covid 19 world