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Using social impact bonds to tackle the issue of workforce development and other social challenges


  1. Social innovation
  2. Jobs and skills
  3. Financial engineering

Main policy issue to be addressed in relation to the selected topics

The objective of the project is to improve social outcomes through the use of social impact bonds (SIBs). It will address a range of issues that fall under the umbrellas of employment, social, and education, but it will concentrate on workforce development. The SIB is a tool that has the potential to tackle these issues by unlocking investment and promoting innovation in service delivery, all without risking public funds. How does it work? In brief, it uses private sector investment to finance innovative social projects that are risky but show great potential for improving social outcomes and cutting costs. If a project achieves certain pre-agreed results, the government pays the private investors. If a project does not achieve its contracted outcomes, the investors lose, and the government pays nothing. Since 2010, 130 SIBs have been launched worldwide. This has raised over $400 million in funding and has touched the lives of over 1 million people. However, their use has been concentrated in countries such as the UK and the US. This network will launch SIB activities across the full height and breadth of Europe. It will focus on workforce development as this is the most promising area for SIB use (40 of the 130 launched so far are of this type). However, to ensure breadth of experience, it will also work on SIBs and other issues, e.g. health, child and family welfare, criminal justice, education and early years, poverty and environment, loneliness, and ageing.

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Useful Information

Because of Heerlen's background, we are particularly keen to work with cities in post-industrial and ex-mining areas — perhaps places that want to move from a top-down to a multi-stakeholder, bottom-up system. Additionally, we are very interested in cities from less developed regions that are interested in social innovation. However, please do still get in touch if these two criteria don't apply to your city.

Last modified:

28 February 2019

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Candidate ID

Municipality of Heerlen
Type of region: 
More developed