International law firm Simmons & Simmons has advised Social Finance UK, on a pro bono basis, on the world’s first social impact bond on mental health and employment as part of their Health and Employment Partnerships programme.

 Simmons & Simmons played a critical role in setting up the legal structure, supporting the investment of capital from Big Issue Invest, and developing a network of contracts with local councils and Clinical Commissioning Groups in three areas of London and the West Midlands.

Health and Employment Partnerships was set up to help bridge the gap between health and employment provision. The aim is to tackle the gulf in employment rates between people with health conditions or disabilities and those without. With 2.2 million people claiming out of work benefits for health reasons, at a cost of £14 billion each year, there is huge potential to invest in effective interventions that help people achieve their goals of sustained, fulfilling employment.

 Social Impact Bonds bring in external, socially-motivated investment to pay for services that deliver better outcomes for individuals and reduced costs for government. In each case, government agencies agree to repay the investment with a small return when and if pre-agreed outcomes are achieved. This model is emerging as an exciting and innovative way to finance solutions to complex social issues.

 With the help of Simmons & Simmons, Health and Employment Partnerships has now launched the first mental health and employment Social Impact Bond. The project is focused on scaling an evidence-based service called Individual Placement and Support (IPS), which supports people with severe mental health illness into paid employment.

 Senior partner, Colin Passmore, commented, ‘I never cease to be really impressed by the huge efforts so many of my colleagues go to in order to promote our pro bono objectives.  This is but one example of the incredible and socially relevant projects we get involved in and for which our lawyers freely give their time. Well done Richard, Dan and Rosanna’.

 The firm proactively takes a lead role when it comes to pro bono work, having recorded over 14,000 hours of work across 22 offices within the past year.

 The Simmons & Simmons team was led by consultant, Richard Armitage assisted by corporate associate, Daniel Whitewood and projects associate, Rosanna Piper- Gill.

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