Can social investment save welfare?

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The case for social investments in welfare/government

  • The social contract of welfare is under strain and public confidence in the services provided by government is wavering.
  • There is a need to drive more efficient use of public resources in order to more cheaply drive impact and outcomes as well as freeing up public resources to adequately cover critical needs.
  • Social investments as a phenomenon are growing as a potential solution to evolving problems in welfare and public service delivery.
  • Social investment can drive early interventions that save government resources downstream in the development life cycles of welfare problems.
  • Government services are not proactive enough to catch welfare problems before they become complicated.
  • Legislation requires public services to react when problems become visible but there are no direct incentives to stop problems from developing in the first place.
  • Sweden is innovative in that many municipalities (80ish) that have allocated money into "social investment funds" to try to fund early interventions.
  • Private investors participating in public social investments can share financial risks, provide support in governance and management of implementation and navigate markets of solutions and service providers.

Social impact bonds / social outcomes contracts

  • Traditional procurement drives much to strong focus on activities rather than results and outcomes leading to the potential for public buyer and private/non-profit service provider incentives to diverge.
  • A new trend in public procurement is contracting on outcomes to align incentives of public, non-profit and private actors around specific measurable outcomes.
  • Social outcomes contracts / Social Impact Bonds are a new experimental type of contracts between public and private/non-profit service providers and private investors to try new operating models to solve social problems.
  • Intermediaries are brokers of relationships and project management experts that help private, non-profit and government parties to align and find agreement on social investments.
  • Public sector organizations are generally not capable of analyzing needs and potential solutions of complex welfare problems. Further they have a terrible track record of following through on projects that run for more than 1 year and especially get sloppy around evaluation and lessons learned from implemented projects.

Potential areas for social innovations and investment

  • Labor market integration
  • Social integration of migrants
  • Prevention of health problems, mental health notably
  • Any issue area where the responsibilities and specifications for functional solutions span across public sector silos or across public, private and non-profit sectors. This is the Achilles heel of the public sector, the inability to organize across silos or across sectors.

12 episodes available. A new episode about every 9 days averaging 36 mins duration .