The mythology of the social impact bond

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The implications of financialisation of government and public service delivery are largely unknown, nor in the public domain. Social Impact Bonds (SIBs) represent another development in social in-vestment to deliver public services using private funds. Public accountability mechanisms have largely failed and a range of examples are shown.

Faced with this breakdown of public accountability and failure of democratic checks and balances, this is not the time for the academic community to parade as policy entrepreneurs or become un-critical conduits for the financialisation of public service delivery. There is long history of academic involvement in neoliberal third sector policy development.

There is less comment on the serious mismatch of risk averse private investors and funding required for SIB delivery. Despite extensive UK and US Government support, there is little evidence of new private money for SIBs. There is also increasing evidence of the use of an unreliable evidence base. There are continuing reports of the poor evaluation of payment by results projects and the risk of interruption to public service provision.

Because of the lack of serious public accountability, it is time for a SIB pause.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSocial Finance, Impact Investing and the Financialization of the Public Interest 2017
EditorsEve Chiapello, Lisa Knoll
Place of PublicationParis
PublisherHamburg University Press
Number of pages30
Publication statusPublished - 11 Dec 2018

Publication series

NameHistorical Social Review Special Edition


  • social impact bonds


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