Commissioning Better Outcomes Fund EvaluationClient: The National Lottery Community Fund | Sectors: Social Policy
Ecorys, in partnership with ATQ consultants, has been commissioned by The National Lottery Community Fund to evaluate the Commission Better Outcomes (CBO) Fund.
CBO aims to support the development of Social Impact Bonds (SIBs), and other finance mechanisms, amongst public bodies. Our nine-year evaluation runs from 2014 to 2023 and focuses on evaluating the development and impact of SIBs both funded by the programme and beyond.
The evaluation focuses on capturing the ‘SIB effect’, that is, how the design, delivery and performance of the service is affected because it is commissioned through a SIB.
In terms of methods, we are conducting consultations and surveys with commissioners, stakeholders and investors, a range of 'indepth reviews' and case studies with areas introducing SIBs, and collated Management Information data to understand the impact.
Overall, our research to date shows that most stakeholders who have implemented or considered SIBs – an important qualification since many have not – are giving them a thumbs-up. Commissioners like the up-front funding for services that would otherwise have been too risky or unaffordable in the current climate; service providers can deliver services that would not have been commissioned otherwise; and investors have seen positive social and financial returns. And everyone believes a positive focus on outcomes rather than activities is a good thing.
However, mainstream adoption of impact bonds still appears some way off. Awareness has increased but they are still niche, only a small number of people have a detailed understanding of them, and they rely on subsidies (top up funding, development grants and free support) to get off the ground. The evidence base underpinning the effectiveness of impact bonds has strengthened and is mainly positive, but is still relatively limited.
Reports produced for the project can be found on The National Lottery Fund website. These include the Evaluation Strategy Report, CBO Update Reports, CBO Thematic Reports, and CBO In-depth Review Reports, among others.