UK’s transforming rehabilitation plans sideline pioneering Peterborough SIB

The implementation of the UK’s nationwide plan to transform rehabilitation services means that the Peterborough Social Impact Bond pilot will be reconfiguring its funding model.

The transforming rehabilitation programme coming into force at the end of 2014 extends rehabilitation services to all offenders across the UK regardless of the length of their sentences. 

Under the reforms private contractors will run rehabilitation services in 21 areas across the UK. “Our reforms have overtaken the pilot,” a spokesperson from the Ministry of Justice said.

The Peterborough pilot was originally developed to fill the gap in rehabilitation services for male offenders serving sentences of less than 12 months. The interventions are managed by Social Finance and are collectively known as the One Service.

Currently, social investors fund the the One Service and receive a return on their investment if there is a measureable positive social impact. Work with the second cohort of offenders for whom the results are due in the coming weeks, will continue to be funded according to the current payment by results investment structure.

But for the third cohort the funding arrangements will be changed. The Ministry of Justice has proposed alternative arrangements to allow the scheme to continue operating until the new providers are in a position to implement their new approach to rehabilitation

By the end of 2014 private contractors will be responsible for developing services for offenders in the Peterborough area, and will have the choice of integrating the One Service into their plans. 

“Under the new reforms maintaining the PbR scheme is impossible,” the MoJ's spokesperson said. “We’ve been keen to make sure providers have the opportunity to integrate the One Service, but we’re not mandating it,” he added.

Alisa Helbitz, director of research and communications at Social Finance, said this was not an indication that the Peterborough SIB had failed, or that the SIB model as a whole was showing signs of failure.

“It is a model being developed around the world, and each SIB developed is different,” she said. “The circumstances of the Peterborough SIB are particular to the political landscape in the UK, where a new service is being rolled out nationally."

Though the lifespan of the Peterborough model, which relies on partnership between investors, social purpose organisations and local councils to deliver services, has been cut short, its effectiveness will continue to be analysed for the second cohort.

As for the likelihood of private contractors endeavouring to replicate the model, “there is no way of being able to gauge that,” Helbitz said.

The MoJ were unable to provide comment around whether the national plan was deemed preferable to the model practised by the Peterborough pilot.

Results to date have demostrated the success of the pilot. Prior to the Peterborough pilot for every 100 prisoners released from Peterborough there were 159 reconviction events annually. The latest figures show that under the scheme this figure has fallen to 141 — a fall of 11 per cent. Nationally that figure has risen by 10 per cent over the same period.