Skip to content
Past events
Challenges of payment-for-performance in public services - implications for health care

Widening Perspectives on Social Impact Bonds

Monday 12 - Tuesday 13 September 2016
Newcastle University London, 102 Middlesex Street, London E1 7EZ

Image of Event logos: PIRU, Rand Europe, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Newcastle University London, Centre for Knowledge, Innovation, Technology and Enterprise

Widening perspectives on social impact bonds:
New academic, critical, and interdisciplinary contributions on the use of Social Impact Bonds in public service delivery

On 12-13 September 2016, PIRU, the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, RAND Europe and the Newcastle University Business School hosted the first academic conference on SIBs that brought fifty international researchers and practitioners together in London.

Substantial attention has been given to Social Impact Bonds (SIBs) since they were first mentioned by Gordon Brown’s Council on Social Action in 2007; however the thinking surrounding SIBs has largely been developed by proponents, practitioners, and policy-makers. The limited literature on SIBs has been focused on identifying practical lessons learnt from early SIB implementation, in the UK and USA, to feed into the development of more SIBs. This conference drew together academic voices from various disciplines to explore a number of empirical and theoretical questions that deserve further critical attention, and to inform and move beyond considerations around SIB implementation.

The conference fostered considered, critical, discussions regarding how we should understand SIBs within wider trends in policymaking, the relationships between the public, private and third sector, and the role of private and philanthropic capital in public service provision. The event featured keynote speeches from two international experts. In the first, Mildred Warner, Professor at the Department of City and Regional Planning at Cornell University, USA, spoke about the rise of SIBs and their political appeal in the United States. The second keynote from Alex Nicholls, Professor of Social Entrepreneurship at the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford, UK, explored the proliferation of SIBs around the world. Presentations were organised around five distinct themes: SIB development and design, social investment, understanding outcomes, the politics of SIBs, and exploring the SIB effect. The conference concluded with a panel discussion led by Dr Emma Disley of RAND Europe, featuring Professor Mildred Warner from Cornell University, Professor Rob Wilson from Newcastle University, Ben Jupp from Social Finance, and Alina Sellman from the Cabinet Office’s Centre for SIBs, about themes arising from the conference and the future of SIBs in the UK and abroad.

To learn more about Mildred Warner and Alex Nicholls’ views about SIBs, see our videos:

Blogs arising from the conference will follow shortly here.

The conference was organized by Alec Fraser, Stefanie Tan (PIRU, LSHTM) and Jonathan Kimmitt (Newcastle University Business School) and was a joint initiative between the Policy Innovation Research Unit (PIRU) based at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and RAND Europe, and the Centre of Knowledge, Innovation Technology and Enterprise (KITE) at Newcastle University Business School.

For further information, please contact Alec Fraser
or Stefanie Tan at PIRU.

The conference explored a number of empirical and theoretical questions that deserve further critical attention, such as: what problems may SIBs solve? Do they create new problems of their own? Are they an efficient and effective funding instrument for public policy? Under which circumstances? These are pressing questions, given the interest and enthusiasm raised by SIBs among policy-makers in a wide range of countries, from Australia to Uganda, Poland to Portugal, the UK to the US, and elsewhere.

The titles of the papers in each theme along with the speaker and affiliation are provided below. Please contact Alec Fraser or Stefanie Tan at PIRU for further information. Powerpoint presentations will be made available on the website shortly.

Monday 12th September
Session 1: SIB development and design – Chair: Dr Mylene Lagarde

Presentation TitleAuthors & Affiliation
Relational and technical challenges: A comparative analysis of four recent Health and Social Care Social Impact Bond ‘Trailblazers’ in EnglandAlec Fraser
Stefanie Tan, Kristy Kruithof, Megan Sim, Mylene Lagarde, Nicholas Mays

Policy Innovation Research Unit, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and RAND Europe
Design from the ground floor: Navigating hard questions and compromise in a young social impact bond marketDuncan Farthing-Nichol

MaRS Centre for Impact Investing
The role of the state in developing social finance and a social investment marketJane Lethbridge

University of Greenwich

Session 2: Social investment Chair: Dr Toby Lowe

Presentation TitleAuthors & Affiliation
Social Impact Bonds and two meanings of “Social Investment”Sue Baines
Chris Fox, Kevin Albertson Fox, Chris O’Leary

Manchester Metropolitan University
Risk evaluation in Social Impact Bond: some hypothesesRizzello A., Scognamiglio E.

University of Naples
How much is too much? The ethics of profiting from social impact bondsJulia Morley

London School of Economics
Personalisation and Social economy: a perspective for Social Impact BondsGiulio Ecchia, Riccardo Prandini

University of Bologna

Session 3: Understanding outcomes Chair: Stefanie Tan

Presentation TitleAuthors & Affiliation
Structuring Social Impact Bonds – Outcomes for whom?Chih Hoong

The intrinsic conceptual challenges facing SIBsToby Lowe
Rob Wilson, Jonathan Kimmitt, Jane Gibbon, Mike Martin

Newcastle University
Social Innovation, Commodification and Evaluation: A Critical Assessment of Social Impact BondsNeil McHugh
Stephen Sinclair, Michael J Roy

Glasgow Caledonian University
What is the impact of ‘social prescribing’? Perspectives of adults with long term health conditions

Suzanne Moffatt
Mel Steer, Linda Penn, Sarah Lawson

Newcastle University

Tuesday 13th September
Session 4: The politics of SIBs – Chair: Dr Alec Fraser

Presentation TitleAuthors & Affiliation
Social Impact Bonds – An Untried Model Masked By Political Rhetoric Leslie Huckfield

Glasgow Caledonian University
Social Impact Bonds and Private Capital: A New Frontier in Welfare PluralismDaniel Edmiston

Oxford University
Social Impact Bonds in Germany? Studying conflicted implementation processesLisa Knoll

University of Hamburg
Producing social value: how the good life became a small public budgetPhilipp Golka

Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena

Session 5: What is the SIB effect? Chair: Prof. Rob Wilson

Presentation TitleAuthors & Affiliation
More than marketised? Exploring the governance and accountability mechanisms at play in Social Impact BondsEleanor Carter

University of Sheffield
Widening Perspectives on Social Impact BondsTim Fox, James Ronicle

Searching for the ‘SIB effect’ – how do Social Impact Bonds change provider behaviour? Stefanie Tan
Alec Fraser, Mylene Lagarde, Nicholas Mays

Policy Innovation Research Unit, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine