The Big Lottery Fund announced today a £35m new fund to further catalyse the development of social impact bonds in England. It will run in parallel with the existing £20m Social Outcomes Fund, run by the Cabinet Office, and will share the same application form.
In addition £2m will be spent on providing support to commissioners on questions such as “Does a social impact bond make sense for what is trying to be achieved?”
Lastly, £3m will be made available for “technical assistance”, if a commissioner wants to purchase in support to structure and develop social impact bonds.
The new fund has a more targeted aim than the Social Outcomes Fund – it is aimed at helping people most in need, and seeks to provide additionality by not funding any services which government has a statutory duty to provide. Although it may be used for other purposes one aspiration is to fund social impact bonds with impacts that span central and local government. The Big Lottery Fund also state that this fund aims to ensure that voluntary, community, and social enterprise organizations have a chance to be involved; given that the gateway to these funds is envisaged to be via a public sector commissioner, it is unclear how this will be achieved within the tendering rules.
Speaking at the launch event, Nick Hurd, Minister for Civil Society, said that “The Big Lottery Fund can do what government can’t do and really look at the long term.” Describing social impact bonds, he highlighted that these types of contractual arrangements create the space for innovation.
The Big Lottery Fund’s press release can be found here.