Growing the Social Investment Market

The UK Cabinet Office white paper on Growing the Social Investment Market is indeed a visionary document, laying out a framework for how government will be re-engineered wholesale to make it more socially conscious and dynamic.

This will institutionalize the ability for society as a whole to offer a much needed ‘Hand Up’ to those in low-income and other disadvantaged and desperate circumstances.

It’s an evolutionary leap to a socially conscious government model.

Open Government Social Innovation

I confess it always makes me proud and awe-struck at just how much the UK continues to be a global innovation leader.

Other Cabinet Office strategies include other fields of interest for me, including their ‘G-Cloud’ computing strategy, another world-leading initiative, and both are really quite stunning in their passion for new change and 21st century thinking.

Effective IT strategy is the ability to link spending to policy, so the key question is how will technology initiatives like G-Cloud help support and accelerate these Social Investment programs.

The key is in ‘Open Government’, including open source software but more importantly entirely new modes of transparent and participative ways of governing. What lies at the heart of the Social Investment strategy is the ambition to delegate governmental authority away from the centre to local government and ultimately through them into the hands of local neighbourhoods and citizens.

This is really what Open Government is about, more so than just technologies although they will play the enabling role in making it possible.

The UK wants to create ‘Open Public Services‘, offering citizens involvement in ‘participatory budgeting‘ and the Right to Buy and even the Right to Challenge the delivery of government services, enabling local communities to take ownership of local, government-owned assets, like under-used buildings, and via Social Finance models transform these into thriving social organizations that achieve real change where it’s needed.

Given the scale and depth of challenges in low-income areas, in-house government administrative programs simply can’t achieve impact, and they’re finally starting to recognize this and the fact the solution is to devolve power into the hands of the communities themselves.

They plan some exciting steps, like setting up a new bank, ‘The Big Society Bank’, and other social investment mechanisms so that the social enterprise sector can be super-charged to be more business like and take on much more investment capital to scale this up.

Key to this are ‘Social Impact Bonds‘. To move to more effective ‘Payment by Results’ models for government services, government is looking to ramp up use of this new financing approach for services, involving the business world and their models and measurement methods.

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