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This section of the literature review contains studies which focus on the payment by results approach to commissioning itself rather than reviewing individual PbR schemes.

Readers interested in the principles and main features of PbR may like to start here.

A quick way to get a grip on how PbR currently (2015) operates in the UK and its strengths and weaknesses to date is to read my series of posts on the National Audit Office report on “Outcome-based payment schemes: government’s use of payment by results.”

For each study, I provide the full reference, a link to the document if available freely online and a one sentence summary.

Studies are presented in order of publication; most recent first.

Studies which I regard as of high quality or of particular interest are highlighted in bold.

You can jump to the seven other sections of research here:


Battye, F. (2015) Payment by Results in the UK: Progress to date and future directions for evaluation. Evaluation 2015, Vol. 21 (2) 189-203

Argues that evaluation should focus on whether different PbR schemes justify their individual rationales (risk transfer, freedom to innovate etc.) rather than just the outcomes themselves.

Whitfield, D. (2015) Alternative to private finance of the welfare state: The global analysis of social impact bonds, pay-for-success and development impact bond projects. Adelaide: Australian Workplace Innovation and Social Research Centre and European Services Strategy Unit.

Argues that SIBs and PbR are basically a privatisation of the state, opening up more markets for banks and big business. Useful overview of wide range of PbR schemes although within a context of looking for failure.

Sturgess, G. (2015) Contestability in public services: an alternative to outsourcing. Australia and New Zealand School of Government

Explores the concept of contestability, a middle way between monopoly and market testing.

Mason, P., Fullwood, Y., Singh, K. & Battye, F. (2015) Payment by Results: Learning from the Literature. Birmingham: ICF International.

The literature review which informed the 2015 National Audit Office report on PbR (summarised in this series of posts). An invaluable resource on large scale UK government schemes in particular.

Sheil, F. & Breidenbach-Roe, R. (2014) Payment by results and the voluntary sector. London: NCVO.

Thoughtful report; highlights: exclusion of vol sector because of lack of working capital, cashflow challenges and concerns about meeting needs of more complex service users within PbR contracts.

ARTD Consultants (2014) DHHS funded community sector outcomes purchasing framework. Community Sector Relations Unit Department of Health Human Services, Hobart, Tasmania.

Separates out programme and population outcomes and sets expectation that outcome measures are negotiated between commissioner and provider.

Crowe D., Gash, T. & Kippin H. (2014) Beyond big contracts: commissioning public services for better outcomes. London: Collaborate at London South Bank University.

Very useful report which explores the gap between PbR rhetoric and reality; argues that neither commissioners no providers are yet equipped to negotiate and operate PbRcontracts effectively and makes a number of helpful recommendations.

Gash T., Panchamia N., Sims S. & Hotson, L. (2013) Making public service markets work: professionalising government’s approach to commissioning and market stewardship. London: Institute for Government

Although not focused on PbR in particular, the report helpfully notes how gaming behaviour is accentuated in competitive environments, such as the competitions to deliver Work Programme, Community Rehabilitation Companies etc.

Hunter, D. & Breidenbach-Roe, R. (2013) Payment by Results contracts: a legal analysis of terms and processes London: BWB/NCVO

Review of voluntary sector PbR contracts leads to useful recommendations around clarity re: purpose of using PbR and importance of negotiation to get more effective contracts and outcome measures.

Boyle, D. (2011) The pitfalls and perils of payment by results. Local Economy 2011 26:627. Sage.

Entertaining and penetrative assessment of how number-based targets can be counter-productive. Goodhart’s Law and much more.

Sturgess, G. et al. (2011) Payment by Outcome: A commissioner’s toolkit. London: 2020 Public Services Trust at the RSA.

An excellent overview which identifies many of the real-life challenges of PbR commissioning.

Battye, F. & Sunderland, J. (2011) Thinking about…Payment by Results. GHK

Overview of key stages in developing PbR commissioning model.




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