The Cabinet Office has announced the launch of an £80m fund to tackle complex social problems.
The Life Chances Fund is an £80m “top-up fund” which will support local public sector organisations to commission social impact bonds and other payment-by-results contracts involving “socially-minded investors”.
The fund will support contracts which are locally commissioned and aim to tackle “complex social problems”. The fund is intended to match fund local commissioners who want to launch a SIB or similar project, and will typically contribute about 20 per cent of the funding. Based on existing central top-up funds, which have targeted a similar contribution, the Cabinet Office estimates a leverage a further £320m in outcomes payments from local commissioners, creating a total pot of £400m for outcomes contracts.
The fund aims to “help those people in society who face the most significant barriers to leading happy and productive lives”.
It aims to do this by increasing the number of and scale of Social Impact Bonds (SIBs) in England, as well as making it easier and quicker to set up a SIB. It also aims to increase the amount of capital available to a wider range of voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector providers to enable them to compete for public sector contracts.
The Life Chances Fund will issue themed call outs, or invitations for bids from applications for SIBs across six themes. These are: drug and alcohol dependency, children’s services, young people, early years, healthy lives, and older people’s services.
Applications for proposals focused on children’s services and tackling drug and alcohol dependency are now open, to be followed by the other themes over the next 12 months.
Up to £30m of funding will be available for SIBs tackling drug and alcohol dependency, with the remainder of the fund being split across the remaining themes.
The fund has been launched alongside the Government Outcomes Lab (GO Lab), which has been launched by the Blavatnik School of Government at Oxford University. The GO Lab was launched as a partnership with the Cabinet Office, to establish an independent centre of academic excellence for the commissioning of public services.
The fund is open for applications from today, and will run for nine years (up until March 2025).
More information on the fund, and details on how to apply, can be found here.