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Opening up the debate on payment by results

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PbR on the rise

There has been growing media coverage of Payment by Results schemes over the last year, both here and abroad (particularly the USA, Canada and Australia).

In the UK, there are now a wide range of pilot schemes operating in the criminal justice, substance misuse, homelessness and troubled families arenas.

I update my free to download PbR resource pack an average of once a week to keep up with the debate.

 But the debate is getting stale

The PbR approach brings fundamental changes to the way Government Departments commission and pay for public services.

This has led to speculation and discussion of a wide range of issues on this Blog and elsewhere, particularly around how to measure and pay for outcomes and whether the private sector can and should work in partnership and/or competition with the public and voluntary sectors.

However, blogging has one main drawback – most visitors are much more interested in reading posts than commenting on them, with the majority of debates taking place offline.

This blog is pretty typical. It’s had over 20,000 different visitors since its launch in September 2011 and almost 100,000 page views, but only 130 people have posted comments.

Over the last few months, the debate around PbR has stagnated somewhat, becoming polarised along political lines in the wake of media coverage of A4e and G4S (although neither of these stories was related to payment by results).

The main reason for this, in my opinion, is that most of the large pilot schemes are only in their first or second year of operation – we will have no real data to evaluate their effectiveness for another couple of years at least.

In the absence of new information, the debate has also become increasingly technical – exploring the arcana of whether “frequency” or “binary” measures are the best way to count re-offending, for example.



So let’s liven it up

I have been as guilty of this as anyone.

So, I decided to try to liven up the debate, get it focused back on some of the main themes and engage some new and interesting people in the debate.

I’ve done this by recording a series of short (5 minute) video interviews with key figures involved in PbR and will be posting them on the blog once a week in a new series starting next Monday.

I have set out to explore a wide range of perspectives, interviewing both supporters and critics of the PbR approach, as well as getting views from commissioners and providers, and the public, private and voluntary sectors.

The format is straightforward.

After giving participants the opportunity to introduce themselves, they all respond to the same five questions:

  1.  Do you think PbR has improved service delivery for clients/offenders/service users – and why?
  2.  What are the right incentives and outcome measures to ensure that organisations are able to innovate and meet developing need?
  3.  What have been the main advantages of PbR for your organisation?
  4.  What have been the main disadvantages of PbR for your organisation?
  5.  Do you think PbR will be a common way of commissioning (procuring?) public services in three years’ time – and why?
I hope you’ll find the interviews as interesting as I did.
If you’d like to contribute, please get in touch – my contact details are at the top of the home page.


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