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A new payment by results interactive tool

Russell has just (7 July 2016) completed the  development of an interactive tool to assist commissioners and providers to decide whether a payment by results approach might be an effective approach to commissioning a particular service.

You can find the tool here, this post describes the process of developing it.

The project was funded by the Oak Foundation, an international charitable trust, whose mission is to address issues of global social and environmental concern, particularly those that have a major impact on the lives of the disadvantaged.

My work was informed by a small Advisory Board comprising individuals with extensive experience of payment by results from research, commissioner and provider perspectives.

The project had three main stages:

stages for PbR interactive

Literature Review

The literature review analysed 94 research studies into a very wide range of programmes funded by a payment by results/outcomes approach. The review focused on programmes in the social care sector – including criminal justice, health, homelessness, substance misuse, troubled families, worklessness – and prioritises provision in the UK. However, studies of particular interest from other countries or other sectors were also included.

The literature review found that the evidence base is not able to give a clear indication as to whether payment by results works. Essentially, PbR schemes vary so much and are commissioned with so many different purposes that it is currently not possible to reach a definitive assessment about the effectiveness of the approach.

However, the rapid proliferation of PbR schemes has helped to generate useful knowledge for those involved in their commissioning, delivery or evaluation. It was possible to identify a set of critical success factors and an even larger number of issues likely to cause schemes to fail or result in unintended outcomes.

The final version of the literature review is available online, please download it here. The key lessons from the review have been broken up into shorter easy-to-digest summaries which were published as a series of weekly blog posts .


The key findings from the literature review were shared in a number of workshops with commissioners, providers and researchers who shared their own experiences of PbR schemes and provided input into the design and content of the interactive tool. You can read a summary of the learning generated by the workshops here or download it here.

I developed an online survey to get additional views from users of services delivered on a PbR basis. The Revolving Doors Agency used a peer researcher approach to get the views of 103 service users across England and Wales on their experiences of PbR services including being supervised by the new Community Rehabilitation Companies and seeking employment via the Work Programme. You can read a short summary of service user views here.

I also developed an online survey to get views from workers in services delivered on a PbR basis. The survey focuses on whether PbR has changed the way the service operates and whether changes are positive or negative. 42 staff completed this survey and you can read a short summary of their views here.


Development of the tool

Tim Bennett of Texelate led the development of the tool, based on the ideas and input from the workshops which provides users with bite-sized digests of learning around specific PbR issues from the literature review.

The first version of the tool was piloted in February/March 2016. Thanks to the very helpful feedback I received on the first version, I made a number of major and minor changes – including in particular, an attempt to balance up the focus between commissioners/investors and providers. The tool was also tweaked to make it more user-friendly and was been upgraded so that your answers to the questions can be downloaded in a PDF document which comes with additional PbR resources.

The second version was also put out to consultation in the month of June 2016 and I was fortunate to receive more detailed feedback which led to a number of clarifications and the eradication of a number of minor bugs.

The tool went live on 7th July 2016.

The explainer video below gives you a quick summary of the tool:

You can check out the tool itself at


Below is a selection of feedback to the tool, please let me know your views — positive and negative, all welcome:



[Page last updated 6 August 2016]

There are five other sections to this payment by results resource pack:

  1. Research
  2. Social Investment
  3. Information about current PbR Schemes
  4. PbR Jargon
  5. Comment and further information

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