The Outcomes Star and Payment by Results

In the autumn of 2011, Triangle carried out research, funded by the London Housing Foundation, to look at the use of the Star within Payment by Results (PBR).

The key questions that the research set out to answer were:

  • Who is using or planning to use the Outcomes Star within social investment or Payment by Results models?
  • What are the key elements of these models in relation to the outcomes measured and the conditions for payment?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of these models and what issues need to be considered in making them work?
  • What further work is needed to enable voluntary sector service providers in general and those in homelessness agencies in London more specifically to gear up for social investment and Payment by Results?

We found that the Outcomes Star is already being used within a PBR context. In some cases payment is being linked to progress as measured by the Star, in others the Star is being used alongside the payment framework but is not part of it.  The commissioners and service providers interviewed in this research favoured the Star because it measures distance travelled, provides more detailed information on progress than other approaches and supports a recovery and empowerment approach to service delivery.

A simple PBR approach in which payment is linked to the achievement of a small number of end outcomes works best when there are simple unambiguous outcomes which can be linked to a single intervention by a single provider. In these circumstances it is probably not appropriate to link payments to outcomes as measured by the Outcomes Star. However the Star can play an important role in enabling the provider and commissioner or investor to monitor and manage progress towards achieving the end outcomes for which the provider is paid.

When the problems and their solution are more complex (as they often are in the homelessness sector and other sectors that use the Star) there are dangers that linking payment to a few end outcomes may significantly distort service delivery. In these circumstances the PBR approach may still work well but there is a need for a broader and more learning oriented approach to assessing results and a closer relationship between commissioner/investor and provider with on-going dialogue about progress and barriers. In these circumstances the Outcomes Star may have a role to play in the payment formula as well as in monitoring progress and managing performance.

Download the full research report from the resources on the right.

If you would like to tell us about your experiences of using the Star within PbR, have any queries about the Star and PbR or would like support in implementing or responding to a new PbR framework, please contact us.