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HCT Group is recognised as the world’s leading transport social enterprise. It safely provides over 30 million passenger trips every year and delivers a range of services – from London red buses to social services transport, from school transport to whole bus networks to community transport.

HCT Group provides independent travel training to young people in Norfolk and Lambeth with Special Educational Needs or Disabilities (SEND). These programmes have been funded through a social impact bond (SIB).

The commissioning process involved co-design and collaboration, and both commissioning bodies made “pragmatic use of the procedures available to them” to partner with HCT Group, according to an independent report into the SIB written by Neil Stanworth of ATQ Consultants and commissioned by the Big Lottery Fund.

Norfolk County Council used a voluntary ex-post ante transparency (VEAT) notice, and the London Borough of Lambeth a Prior Information Notice (PIN).


With a social mission to enhance people’s lives, provide opportunities and bring people and communities together through transport and training, HCT Group says:

“Transport can help to bring down the barriers faced by the most vulnerable in our society, making a real difference. It is the means by which the most marginalised can access jobs, education, healthcare – or even the simple freedom of getting out and about, so central to our quality of life.”

Norfolk County Council – VEAT Notice

Norfolk County Council signed a five-year contract with HCT Group in July 2017 to provide independent travel training to young people with Special Educational Needs or Disabilities (SEND).

The contract is funded by a Social Impact Impact Bond (SIB) which means Norfolk County Council does not have to pay for the training unless and until the key outcome (the young person being able to travel independently) is achieved. At this point the council has and continues to achieve cost savings; the independent review into the SIB demonstrates that these financial savings were a key motivator but the council also wanted to achieve longer-term impacts by improving the independence of young people once they leave school.

A voluntary ex-post ante transparency (VEAT) notice was used, which “requires the commissioner to declare that the provider developing the SIB is the only one available. Provided the commissioner is satisfied that the VEAT process is appropriate, therefore, and the notice is not challenged, it enables award of the contract without competition.”

London Borough of Lambeth – Prior Information Notice

In Lambeth the commissioner used a prior information notice (PIN) to advertise the Independent Travel Training SIB contract. By doing so it could invite competition from other possible providers without the need for an expensive and protracted procurement process.

Under the PIN approach, a full procurement process would only have been necessary if another provider expressed interest and a belief it could compete with HCT. Since no other providers did, Lambeth and HCT were able to proceed to contract negotiations without further competition.

For more details about the HCT Independent Travel Training Social Impact Bond, read Neil Stanworth’s in-depth review for the Commissioning Better Outcomes Fund Evaluation (23 page pdf).

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