Specialist Outlook

Pioneering social impact bond exceeds target by 80%

29 August 2013

Programme to prevent young people from becoming NEET reveals strong early outcomes

The first social impact bond aimed at preventing young people from becoming NEET (not in education, employment or training) has claimed an early success, after it was revealed that it has exceeded one of its targets by 80%.

ThinkForward, which is run by the charity Tomorrow's People, works with 350 low-attaining young people in East London and has a government target to ensure that over 30% achieve five A* to C GCSEs. This year, 55% of the young people targeted did so.
The programme has placed highly-qualified coaches in ten schools in order to offer young people deemed at risk with personalised, on-going support. Outcomes are measured by attainment, behaviour and attendance, with the overall goal of preventing at least 80% from becoming NEET.
Big Society Capital and Impetus-PEF have each invested £450,000 in the bond. In doing so they have taken all of the financial risk for the programme's success, but if it is successful, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will pay back their investment plus a profit. They have promised that such profit will be reinvested in other social programmes.
The maximum cost to DWP per young person will be £8,200, compared to a NEET young person's estimated lifetime cost to government of £97,000.
Nick O’Donohoe, CEO of Big Society Capital, said: “This year’s GCSE results are an encouraging indicator of how effective this programme is at supporting some of our most vulnerable young people into education and training.”

There have also been positive early results from another social impact bond working to prevent young people from becoming NEET. A project in Merseyside run by Triodos New Horizons, which works with young people with complex issues, has ensured that 24% achieved five A* to C GCSEs, compared to a target of 5%.

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Gareth Jones

Gareth Jones is a journalist and communications consultant specialising in charity finance. As editorial manager of Slack Communications, he co-authors Charity Financials' range of Spotlight reports and writes regularly for the Guardian Voluntary Sector Network. Previously he was editor of the Charity Finance Group's member magazine Finance Focus and senior reporter at both Charity Finance magazine and CivilSociety.co.uk

Elsewhere he writes articles and edits special supplements for the New Statesman, advises businesses and charities on their PR, blogging and digital strategies, and holds a master's degree in Public Policy from King's College London.

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