19 April 2010

More on Social Impact Bonds

I've blogged before about Social Impact Bonds and how they adopt one of the principles of Social Policy Bonds: that of linking rewards to outcomes. Unfortunately, in my view, it appears that the recipients of such rewards are to be those agencies already working to achieve the specified outcomes. This limits not only the efficiency of the bonds but, perhaps more crucially, their range of operation. Existing bodies tend to have expertise in doing specified things in a certain way. Their vision is limited by the specificity of these things. Any stipulated goals, under a Social Impact Bond regime would, I believe, therefore be too narrowly defined to allow for broad social and environmental goals and the creative destruction of those that are unpromising. Sadly, therefore, it would seem that Social Impact Bonds are afflicted by that bane of policymaking worldwide: their effectiveness and efficiency are subordinate to current institutional structures. To that extent then, Social Impact Bonds represent only an incremental improvement over conventional policymaking. Under a Social Impact Bond regime our social and environmental objectives, would continue to be driven not by society's wishes, but by the organisational needs and limited vision of those currently supposed to be supplying them. To me, that's a recipe for failure.

Nevertheless, I have emailed both the Young Foundation and Social Finance (as well as the Economist, which publicised Social Impact Bonds) and invited them to make use of my work on Social Policy Bonds if they wish. None of these organisations has responded to any of my emails.

No comments: