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Social impact bonds expand across the UK

The first social impact bond trial in Scotland has launched, one of six projects across the UK set to be supported by sponsoring agency the Department of Work and Pensions.

The social impact bond project in Scotland will fund Perth-based YMCA’s charity work with young people. It was announced at a social impact conference in Glasgow last week. Jill McGraith, the YMCA’s acting chief executive, said: “We thought there would be a couple of big investors but what happened was small individuals and businesses came forward.”

Social impact bonds also attracted political attention in Scotland last week, with Liberal Democrat MSP Alison McInness calling on the Scottish government to introduce social impact bonds to fund prisoner rehabilitation in Scottish jails. She said social impact bonds would help “revolutionise” rehabilitation with the help of charities.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, responding to McInness in Parliament, pledged to look at the idea.

The very first social impact bond trial in England is being piloted at HMP Peterborough, where private investors are funding prisoner rehabilitation through the One Service – a coalition of mostly charitable organisations, led by Social Finance, providing intensive help to 3,000 short-term prisoners throughout their sentence and when they leave prison.

If reoffending amongst this group is reduced by an agreed target with the Ministry of Justice, investors will get a return from government. But if the target is not reached, the investors will get nothing back.
‘NEET’ social impact bond

One of the six social impact bond projects to be supported by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP)is a social impact bond led by the Private Equity Foundation (PEF).

The social impact bond has been commissioned by the DWP’s Innovation Fund, and is being backed by PEF and Big Society Capital with £900,000 in investment.

It will fund charity Tomorrow’s People’s ThinkForward project which will place ‘super coaches’ in ten schools in Shoreditch in East London, to tackle the number of young people not in education, employment or training (NEET).

If the programme in the ten schools meets a list of targets agreed with the DWP Innovation Fund, PEF and Big Society Capital will get a financial return.

Other social impact bonds to be supported by the DWP include one to be led by Triodos Bank to fund a programme of job creation in Bristol
Manchester social impact bond

Elsewhere, Manchester City Council has voted to pilot social impact bonds to fund intensive foster care for children currently living in residential care homes.

The Council plans to enter into a partnership with an ethical investor who will be contracted by the Council to both underwrite the scheme and provide the service itself on behalf of the Council.

The pilot scheme, called the multi-systemic treatment foster care project, will involve eight children and young people initially.

Manchester City Council was involved in a six-month feasibility study with Social Finance last year along with Liverpool and Essex councils to investigate the potential for social impact bonds to fund services targeted at vulnerable children, young people and their families.

By Vibeka Mair, civilsociety.co.uk

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