The social investment approach involves answering two key questions:
- Who do we need to get better long-term results for?
- What is the best way to get those results?
Who do we need to get better results for?
To identify who we need to get better long-term results for, we need to get better at collecting and analysing data.
If we understand more about people's experiences we will be able to design better services for them. For examples, see Case Studies.
A number of initiatives are underway to more systematically collect and analyse data, to better identify the outcomes experienced by specific groups such as: enjoying economic opportunity; engaging and achieving in education; maintaining good health; and enjoying safety and security. See The Role of Data in Social Investment for more information.
What is the best way to get those results?
To get better long-term results for people with needs that aren’t being met, we need to look at where existing services could be improved, and where we need to innovate to get bigger breakthroughs. To help with this, the government is looking at greater involvement from not-for-profit and private sector providers alongside its agencies.
We also need to compare different options on an "apples and apples" basis. International experience shows that return-on-investment tools which evaluate the costs and benefits of different proposals in a consistent way can be a powerful driver in getting better results for people. A new cost-benefit assessment tool has been developed to enable us to make these comparisons. See Cost Benefit Analysis Tool - CBAx for more information.
To make sure services actually deliver in practice, proposals being considered as part of the social investment approach will need to deliver measurable results. Systematic evaluation of services will be a key part of this. All agencies will need to better understand the effectiveness of their services, and we will increasingly draw on expertise from inside the public sector (such as SUPERU) and outside.