For all the good that public servants have achieved for the Australian community, few possess the STEM skills that everyone says the future needs. So
We recently moved our readers to a new system. You may need to reset your password here to login.
Not a member ? Join here for free.
Forgot your password?
Home Features Partnerships for public good: social benefit bonds in NSW
Text size :
TAGS National, State, Local, Social benefit bonds, social welfare
There are encouraging signs from pilot programs in NSW that have private firms partnering with the government to deliver social improvement.
Social benefit bonds — public-private partnerships that incentivise community improvement — are coming. But they will need to become cheaper and easier to develop to catch on.
SBBs, also known as social investment bonds, are a relatively new form of “government pays” PPP first trialled in the United Kingdom. Private investors provide funds to service providers to deliver improved social outcomes. If certain outcomes are reached — for example, reduced recidivism or fewer children going into out-of-home care — the government pays back the amount invested, plus a return.
Though SBBs have attracted much media attention, one of the architects of the first SBBs in New South Wales warns they are not a cure-all but a “tool” to address specific problems. Social impact analyst Emma Tomkinson says they are useful “anywhere where there is a clear problem and an additional preventative program could address that program and the problem is expensive. That’s probably where a social impact bond could be effective.
“Perhaps a program where you want to encourage innovation. It’s easiest if you’re already paying on a demand basis for that problem, such as per person or per night.” When demand is reduced, so is spending. Improving outcomes on expensive “wicked” problems, it’s hoped, will save large amounts of money over the long term.
Receive unlimited access, get all the latest public sector news and features, plus The Juice, our daily news update sent direct to your inbox.
The Mandarin is where Australia's public sector leaders discuss their work and the issues faced within modern bureaucracy. Join today to discover the latest in public administration thinking and news from our dedicated reporters, current and former agency heads and senior executives.
David Donaldson is a journalist at The Mandarin based in Melbourne. He's previously written for The Guardian and Crikey and holds a masters in international relations.
Read Related Content