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A quantitative evaluation of the Innovation Fund (IF) pilot projects has just been published by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). The IF was a £30 million programme comprising 10 SIB pilot projects delivered between April 2012 and November 2015. The programme aimed to help disadvantaged young people re-engage in education, training and employment. The findings of the evaluation suggest this was not achieved: 

  • Surveys were conducted on 891 project participants aged 14 to 18 and compared to an equal number of non-participants.* After one year, fewer young people who participated in the SIB projects were in education and employment than from the comparator group, but more were in training. This difference was most pronounced for over-16s, where just 59% of the SIB group were in any type of education, employment or training compared with 75% of the matched group
  • Administrative data for 14 and 15 year-olds from the National Pupil Database found that the programme helped young people achieve NQF level 1 qualifications. However, up to three years after starting the programme, the proportion achieving NQF levels 2 and 3 were lower than in a comparator group, while persistent absences and exclusions from school were higher for those who participated.
  • Social Return on Investment (SROI) analysis found the IF pilots did not achieve value for money when understood in relation to the programme’s (negative) impact. Overall, it is possible that the same or better outcomes would have been achieved if the schemes had not existed. 

However, we must look at these findings with some caution as there were data limitations. You can read the GO Lab response to these findings here.