Sunday, March 17, 2013

Social Impact Bonds

An interesting approach to align incentives - a financial instrument that undoubtedly needs time to evolve to develop objective measures and structures that work (the Economist):

That puts her at the front line of a big financial experiment, too. Her work is being funded by an instrument called a “social-impact bond” (SIB), which promises returns to private investors if social objectives are met. The bond raised £5m ($8m) from investors, to be shared between St Mungo’s and another organisation called Thames Reach (responsible for another 400-or-so homeless people).

The cash will fund a three-year programme, the success of which is measured by everything from the number of nights that the rough sleepers spend on the streets to their visits to hospital. As targets are met, payments will flow to investors from the Greater London Authority (GLA), the SIB’s commissioning body.

The arrangement suits all parties. The rough sleepers are frequent users of government services, including accident-and-emergency wards. Cutting their number should save the GLA enough money to fund payments to investors if goals are met. At a time when public spending is under pressure, the taxpayer stumps up only if results are achieved. Investors have the prospect of a return to entice them, of up to 6.5% if targets are met.
More here (PBS)

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