Centre for Social Impact Bonds: new tools launched

17 May 2013 01:22 PM

The Centre for Social Impact Bonds in the Cabinet Office has launched two important new tools to support the development social impact bonds: the Social Impact Bond Knowledge Box and a template SIB service agreement contract.

Social Impact Bond Knowledge Box

Social Impact Bond Knowledge Box is an online portal providing information on all aspects of developing and commissioning social impact bonds (SIBs), from identifying service areas suitable for SIBs to measuring outcomes and calculating savings. It also includes comparable case studies of SIBs launched to date and provides links to other sources of information and guidance in the UK and internationally.

Knowledge Box is the first time that all the information about SIBs has been collated in one place. It is a dynamic and collaborative resource which people can comment on and contribute to. It will:

  • help validate SIBs as a real, viable option for commissioners
  • help to cut down the transaction costs associated with developing SIBs
  • fulfil rapidly increasing demand for information on SIBs

Knowledge Box is a modular resource intended to be used as a reference, quickly and often, rather than read like a book. It is designed as a practical resource to help SIB developers to implement more SIBs, and seeks to address some of the technical questions that early SIB developers have encountered.

Knowledge Box has been produced by the Centre for SIBs with contributions from SIB experts from across central and local government, as well from intermediaries from the UK and the US. These include the Ministry for Justice, the Department for Work & Pensions, Department for Communities and Local Government, Greater London Authority, Essex County Council, Social Finance, Bridges Ventures and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government SIB Lab.

Knowledge Box will be open to comment by internal and external stakeholders and will be regularly updated to reflect new developments in the market and as expertise grows.

Template SIB service agreement contract

The Centre for SIBs has also developed a template SIB service agreement contract as a free resource to SIB developers in the UK. The template will help reduce the time and cost associated with developing the legal arrangements of a SIB. A guidance document on contracting social impact bonds is available here.

The contract governs the terms of the relationship between the commissioner of a SIB and the delivery body. It is a relevant tool for developing any payment-by-results or outcomes-based service contract, but it has been developed based on specialist expertise on outcomes-based commissioning projects that draw in social investment through a social impact bond. The contract template is based on the law of England and Wales. It was developed through a wide consultation with experienced SIB developers including commissioners, investors and intermediaries involved in the 13 SIBs currently in operation.

The template is intended as an enabling tool. It is not, however, an off-the-shelf contract and commissioners and other developers should seek their own legal advice in developing their legal arrangements.

To obtain a copy of the contract SIB developers should contact the Centre for SIBS.

Centre for Social Impact Bonds

The Centre for Social Impact Bonds is a multi-disciplinary team within the Cabinet Office that promotes the development of more and better social impact bonds. The Centre for SIBs works to increase understanding of SIBs across government and to provide support to SIB developers. It does this in four ways:

  • increasing awareness and understanding of SIBs through online resources and at workshops and conferences
  • reducing transaction and set-up costs by developing standard tools such as template contracts
  • helping SIB developers to estimate cross-cutting benefits by making more data publicly available about the costs to government of providing specific public services
  • supporting SIB developers by providing strategic advice and analytical support

The Centre for SIBs works alongside and supports the Social Outcomes Fund. The SOF was launched in November 2012 to catalyse more SIBs by topping up outcomes payments for promising propositions which can’t quite aggregate enough benefits to become viable, even though the overall benefits justify them being commissioned.