Outcomes funding, Homelessness, policy, Social Impact Bonds, Social Impact Investments
Victoria's first social impact bond: Journey to Social Inclusion
Sacred Heart Mission successfully negotiated Victoria’s first Social Impact Investment (outcomes-based contract) and Latitude Network supported them each step of the way.
SHM began life with the opening of the parish doors in Grey Street, St Kilda, to host meals for locals experiencing homelessness.
Nearly 40 years on and SHM is now a leader in providing intensive support for people right across the homelessness spectrum using engagement services (meals and welcoming physical spaces) and individualised service support as well as providing accommodation and support.
SHM’s program, Journey to Social Inclusion (J2SI), was born in the late-2000s out of the organisation’s concern that ‘business as usual’ was not allowing them to do the job they wanted to do - end homelessness for some of Melbourne’s most vulnerable people. As a result of the inherent silos in the social and health service systems, SHM decided to invest in building an evidence-based, outcomes-focused program for clients linking a ‘rapid-housing’ response with targeted help over the long-term (three years) - something the current service system found almost impossible to do.
After raising funds to run J2SI as a pilot as well as an expanded phase 2, SHM’s challenge was to continue to attract funding to both keep the program going but also to grow the program so that SHM could reach more of those it knew needed more targeted support.
In late 2016 the Victorian Department of Treasury and Finance issued a ‘Request for Proposal’ for its Social Impact Bond (SIB) Pilot Program. SHM saw this as an opportunity to both continue the growth and reach of J2SI while also testing an ‘outcomes-based funding’ approach for J2SI.
But this was going to be a competitive tender with perhaps up to 20 organisations interested in applying. How do we make SHM’s J2SI program stand out and then, if successful, negotiate something that had no precedent in Victoria?
THE ROLE LATITUDE NETWORK PLAYED / THE OUTCOME
Latitude Network acted as a specialist advisor, project manager and negotiator through both the tender application and contract negotiation stages. Russ Wood helped coordinate the existing expertise, talent and energy within SHM and the J2SI program, translating that into a negotiating approach that would help meet the Government’s outcomes, policy and financial agenda while also getting SHM the best outcome.
It was intense work - fortnightly negotiation meetings with Government (led by Treasury officials) meant weekly SHM team meetings to review the meeting agenda and do the work to prepare to negotiate and, importantly, problem-solve the many challenges.
Latitude Network not only helped keep the process on track - but also provided timely advice on the political and policy environment as well as the emerging outcomes-based funding environment.
THE TRANSFORMATION / IMPACT
J2SI became Victoria’s first ever SIB to be agreed when Victoria's Minister for Housing signed the contract with SHM in December 2017.
As a result of this, SHM is now able to provide intensive, tailored support over three years to 180 individuals experiencing chronic homelessness. Keep in touch to hear further updates as the project progresses.
How does a social or health service provider demonstrate to their funders that they can, with early intervention, achieve not only measurable improvements for the people they work with, but also long-term cost savings? And how does that organisation navigate the political and policy environment - convincing key parties, like Government, to contract to co-design and deliver a long-term, sustainable program focused on delivering real outcomes? Complex issues often fail to respond to traditional social service approaches, so many funders are looking for a new approach that incentivises outcomes.
This is the question that Sacred Heart Mission set out to answer recently as a way of scaling-up their successful ‘Journey to Social Inclusion’ program which supports people experiencing homelessness.
What does one of these ‘outcomes-focused’ agreements look like? What is the right approach to take - what are the key considerations? Who are the key parties? What are the pieces of the outcomes puzzle and how do we get them to fit?
Social impact bonds, as one method for governments to commission for outcomes, hold the promise of a new way of doing things that is more focused and uses financially accountability to drive improvements. Latitude’s approach is based on understanding the full ‘value’ of solutions. Outcomes-based commissioning is a team sport and so it is necessary to understand what each prospective party wants to achieve (what they value), what they can contribute and, therefore, how much risk (and return) should be ascribed to each party.
Once determining the most fundamental point - understanding the value you are bringing to your clients - our approach is to support your organisation to build a convincing case about the service and financial benefits of your services and solutions, and pitch that solution to key funders (governments, in particular).
The outcome With our support as key strategic and project manager, the Mission was successful in its application to join with the Victorian Government (Depts of Treasury & Finance and Health & Human Services) to negotiate one of Victoria’s first Social Impact Bonds in late 2017. These negotiations began in May 2017 and are ongoing. Sign up to our newsletter to stay in touch with the project as it progresses.
Russ Wood of Latitude Network has worked with the Mission throughout this process.
Latitude Network is excited to announce that we are supporting Sacred Heart Mission in negotiating one of Victoria’s first Social Impact Bonds (SIBs). Sacred Heart Mission was one of two organisations successful in applying to the Victorian Government to enter negotiations to conclude SIB contracts this year based on expanding its Journey to Social Inclusion program, which is setting a new benchmark for addressing long-term homelessness in Australia.
Social Impact Bonds are being explored by commissioning agencies around the world in an attempt to find more effective ways of funding social and health services. SIBs (also known as ‘Pay For Success’ or ‘Payment by Results’ contracts) are part of an emerging set of funding mechanisms which aim to pay for service outcomes instead of service outputs – something the Productivity Commission discussed in depth in its recent report into competition, contestability and informed user choice.
Russ Wood is leading this work for Latitude, and is acting as strategic adviser and project manager through the ‘Joint Development Phase’ of the SIB which is expected to run until the end of 2017.
If your organisation is interested in exploring which programs might be suitable for outcomes-based commissioning such as Social Impact Bonds, then let us know - we'd be happy to share our learning. Just email us.