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Social Impact Bonds

strength of evidence

Insufficient evidence available

Cost effectiveness

Insufficient evidence available


Insufficient evidence available

What is this intervention?

Social Impact Bonds are a 'payment by results' model of financing for the reduction of homelessness and related outcomes.

What is its goal?

The primary goal of homelessness social impact bonds for is to reduce the number of people experiencing homelessness. Related outcomes may be improving health and employment, and to promote reconnection to place of origin.

How is the intervention meant to work?

Payment by results shifts the ‘risk’ of not achieving results from the funder to the implementing agency and so should increase the likelihood that the funder’s objectives are achieved.

What does the evidence tell us?


Social impact bonds improved housing stability and increased reconnections.





Where does the evidence come from?

There is one study from the United Kingdom (London).

Which groups does it affect?

Rough Sleepers

The intervention targeted entrenched rough sleepers.

Which outcomes does it affect? 


The social impact bond was intended to achieve greater housing stability, reconnection with no right to remain in the UK, promote employment, education and training, and improve health and wellbeing. The one study of social impact bonds only reports findings for housing stability (reduced rough sleeping and sustained stable accommodation) and reconnection, finding a positive impact on both.

considerations for IMPLEMENTATION

Be clear where responsibilities lie

Shared understanding, good communication, and clarity of roles and responsibilities promote effective partnership working between agencies and a more joined-up service for service users. If you are implementing a social impact bond programme, ensure your team are clear about the boundaries of their role and that of the service. Think, for example, about whether service users become the responsibility only of the social impact bond project or the project provide a supplementary service.

Set realistic targets

If you are commissioning or delivering a social impact bond project, ensure that the project has clear objectives and that targets are realistic to avoid compromising service quality, innovation and engagement. Sub-groups within the service user population may have different needs, so financial returns may need to be tied to different success rates.

Invest in maintaining a skilled workforce

You will want to ensure that your team is well-trained, persistent, flexible and empathic. They must also be skilled at inter-agency working because staff in social impact bond projects typically need to work alongside well-established, long-term projects.

Retain the full engagement of your team for the duration of projects

The short-term nature of social impact bond projects means that towards the end of the project your team may be looking for other employment options. Think about how best to maintain an engaged team right to the end to enable them to assist service users with access to other support after the project finishes.

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