News and Comment

OPM continues social impact bonds knowledge sharing relationship with Japanese universities

Monday 21 September 2015

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Earlier this month we were delighted to welcome an SIB research delegation led by Meiji University back to OPM.

The visit is the latest development in the partnership supporting a 5 year empirical study funded by the Japanese Government into how social impact investments, especially SIBs, affect governments, social service providers, service users, and the standard of social services in the UK – further evidence of the interest internationally in the progression of the UK social impact bonds market since the world’s first was implemented in Peterborough Prison 5 years ago.

The delegation first visited OPM last November to hear about our experiences evaluating the Essex County Council SIB and ‘Peninsula LIST’ project, and continuing the relationship in April OPM’s Director of Business Development Dr Chih Hoong Sin spoke at the 2015 Social Investing and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Forum, held at Meiji University in Tokyo – presenting his observations of the nature of the ‘first wave’ of UK SIBs and the lessons to be learned from the world’s most developed market.

OPM’s expertise, it is hoped, will contribute to the launch of the 1st Japanese social impact bond.

This latest meeting was particularly timely. At the time of writing the UK still accounts for the largest number of SIBs globally (31), having been the first to pioneer the pay-for-performance vehicle that leverages private funding to finance public services five years ago. In addition, Social Finance had recently announced details of the first UK social impact bonds to perform above expectations and deliver outcomes sufficient to return investor capital earlier than expected. 

Yet the international backdrop is more mixed.

The Riker’s Island SIB, which aimed to reduce recidivism among 16 to 18-year-olds who entered New York City’s Rikers prison by at least 10% had been terminated due to failing to achieve the agreed targets, while a new report from the Brookings Institute (Chih Hoong Sin is referenced as a study participant on page 52 and OPM’s evaluation of the Essex Family Therapy SIB features on page 84) this summer called for increased transparency and knowledge sharing on the potential and limitations of impact bonds to move this agenda – how to better ensure the achievement of outcomes for vulnerable populations – forward.

In this context we were in a position to update our Japanese colleagues on the progress of our evaluation of the ‘Essex SIB’ – the first in the world to be commissioned by a local authority – and the ‘Peninsula LIST Project’, that aimed to use an SIB as vehicle to commission public services across 4 local authorities in the South West of England.

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If you would like to find out more about OPM’s evaluations of the ‘Essex SIB’ and ‘Peninsula LIST’ projects, please contact Chih Hoong Sin, Director of Business Development at CSin@opm.co.uk or on 0207 239 7877.