A very interesting conference (by the looks of it) took place in Manchester last week looking at the issue of Payment By Results (PBR). Slides from the conference can be found here and there is also a declaration on the site that can be signed ‘rejecting’ PBR methods. The speakers at the conference presented evidence that suggested PBR ‘creates ‘gaming” and ‘frequently distorts the direction of programs, diverting attention away from, rather than towards, what the program should be doing.’
PBR is relevant to efforts to tackle poverty as it appears in a number of government programmes linked to improving institutional behaviour around the issue. It also links to the parallel concepts of incentives and sanctions to change individual behaviour amongst people on low incomes and/or not in work. The Work Programme uses PBR (problems associated with this are highlighted in Toby Lowe’s presentation) but PBR is also used in efforts to ‘transform the lives’ of ‘troubled families’. Funding is allocated to local authorities if the families reach targets in relation to reduction in anti-social behaviour, increased attendance at school and/or engagement with work related activity over a 6-month period. None of these, one might argue are equivalent to a life being transformed. Ofsted have also suggested that the government ‘should consider … payment linked to outcomes’ for the Pupil Premium if the money is not ‘targeted effectively’.