HM Treasury

Invest to save budget (ISB)

About ISB

ISB is the catalyst for projects, which have a risk factor and are pioneering, making things happen and producing better quality public services.

ISB provides the initial financial backing to projects that demonstrate the capacity to achieve sustainability.

The ISB is about joined up government, forging new alliances, creating partnerships and promoting innovation by sharing risks involved in new types of delivery so that the public can get the benefit of a more integrated package of services.

ISB learns and disseminates lessons from the successes and failures of the projects, so that it can inform the design of future service delivery by partnerships across the public sector.

There is an ISB manager, who looks over the ISB programme working to create an environment in which more people know about ISB, and are better able to access the lessons that are being learnt through the programme.

ISB has many avenues it uses to disseminate the lessons learned from its projects. ISB assemble a programme of events, for example seminars and workshops, which bring together project managers and others to digest and exchange their experiences to date. Other means of disseminating best practice are through publications, articles and this dedicated website and database.

The ISB is moving through an interesting phase. We are beginning to find out how much of the promise offered by the projects supported has been fulfilled. And ensure that the findings are made known to as wide an audience as possible.

Achieving excellence 

The alliances the ISB have fostered between public sector agencies are already starting to deliver benefits and make a difference in the way in which services are delivered.

ISB projects vary in their objectives and the innovative ideas, which they are pursuing. And each project has several dimensions to it. But three themes can be drawn out from the projects to illustrate their scope:

Partnership working between public sector agencies brings substantial benefits. Partnership projects can:

Entering into a partnership is often innovative in itself. But the combined knowledge and expertise of the partners offers new opportunities for innovation in service delivery. This will often require a change in the way in which services are managed and delivered.

Making new partnerships work effectively requires commitment and imagination from all of the partners. Innovation carries risks and uncertainties, which need to be managed throughout the life of any project. Furthermore, innovative partnership projects often need some investment upfront to get them off the ground and support them through the critical early phases.

The Invest to Save Budget (ISB) was created in 1998 to fund projects, which bring together two or more public bodies to deliver services in an innovative fashion. It provides a means of investing in partnership projects with the potential for transforming public services - but which need be further developed before this potential can be unlocked.

Following a review in the lead up to Spending Review 2004, there is a new emphasis on local projects, focusing on community cohesion and engagement, with the voluntary and community sector playing an increasingly prominent role.

HM Treasury runs the ISB, in collaboration with the Cabinet Office. Funds are allocated competitively and public sector managers are challenged to come forward with proposals, which will make a real difference. Competition for support is intense and only the best ideas are supported.

Subject to the overarching objectives being met, there is no "model" ISB project. The ISB philosophy is to encourage innovation through collaboration and in some cases enable organisations to pilot new ways of working to establish the potential costs and benefits before full implementation. So the programmes boundaries are flexible in nature.

The projects are spread right across the public sector, involving central government, local government, health authorities, police and others. The scope of the partnerships underpinning each project varies according to the project's objectives and includes private and voluntary sector partners where this makes delivery more effective.

The ISB can help projects at various stages of development. For example:

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