Leicestershire County Council plans social impact bond for initiative against obesity

Local authority is one of four already involved in national project to use bonds for charities that work with problem families

Leicestershire County Council
Leicestershire County Council

A new social impact bond project to tackle obesity is being planned by Leicestershire County Council.

The local authority is one of four in a new £40m social impact bond pilot project to work with problem families, announced by Nick Hurd, the Minister for Civil Society, in August.

Andy Robinson, assistant chief executive at the council, told Third Sector the project would be on a smaller scale than the national one. "We might be able to run a £1m project," he said.

A social impact bond is a payment-by-results mechanism: public bodies pay charities for early intervention in problems such as reducing reoffending, drug use or health issues.

Charities are funded by investors to work with people with problems. The investors make a profit if the charities succeed, but lose some or all of their money if the charities fail.

Robinson said the decision to pursue a second project emerged from discussions between the council and the voluntary sector.

"We wanted to increase the number of voluntary sector suppliers in the market, and we wanted to trial a payment-by-results mechanism," he said.

"We had a discussion with providers about what sort of project they would like to run, and they said they would like to look at obesity."

He said the council itself would be able to pay £400,000 to fund the project, but it hoped to more than double that with funds from other groups.

Robinson said that developing metrics to measure success on the obesity project would be simpler than on the project to improve the lives of problem families.

He said he hoped to have a "high-level" plan for what the scheme might look like by Christmas, and that he wanted to have the scheme up and running next year.

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