Friday, 26 August 2011

H&F pioneers scheme to tackle poverty with private cash

Hammersmith is a pilot site for the UK trying to tackle the issues of poverty and crime, which cost the country and individuals hugely, using private instead of taxpayers cash. This unlikely and very ambitious idea, which is described by the BBC here, aims to draw in £40 million in the form of Social Impact Bonds, whereby private firms working with families afflicted by poverty are paid - but on the basis of the results they achieve, not the work they've done.

It mirrors the increasing emphasis on results in the sector I work in, international development, and is to me a very understandable concern with what actually works, rather than the ways we've always done things. Critics however smell a rat and there are suggestions that this is simply a way of cutting back on necessary public spending.

Time will tell - but as ever in these things, Hammersmith & Fulham is the testing ground for the Government's more radical policy prescriptions these days. For a read of what these problems actually look like in Shepherd's Bush, check out this excellent review of a visit recently paid to a low income housing project here.

1200 UPDATE - The Council has been in touch to give me their take on things, here is Stephen Greenhalgh, Leader of H&F Council:
"The social impact bond is a really exciting idea that is in tune with Hammersmith & Fulham Council's belief in the hand up rather than the hand out. We need real innovation if we are to address the entrenched culture of entitlement and dependency amongst our most chaotic and troubled families."
Hard to disagree.


  1. I can't really see how this will be any different to any other aspect of public service that has been farmed out to the public sector in the interest of the local authority not putting it's fat Tory hand in its pocket. Will this initiative really be led by 'results' or rather by which private firm comes in with the lowest costs? I guess we'll likely be seeing Serco-Social Workers around soon...

  2. Never post when annoyed - you make mistakes. It should read 'farmed out to the private sector'. The part about fat Tory hands stands though.

  3. Meanwhile Grant Shapps wants to end Council Tax Benefit for the childless unemployed. So much for reducing poverty.