Co-production - where public services are designed and delivered with users rather than 'to' and 'for' them is the key to transforming public services according to a new report by NESTA (National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) and nef (New Economics Foundation).
'Right Here, Right Now: Taking co-production into the mainstream' says that co-production is developing strongly on the periphery of public services, especially in social care and supported housing. However, it should become the default model for a range of other services including healthcare, criminal justice, education and welfare to work.
The underlying principle of co-production is that people's needs are better met when they are involved in equal and reciprocal relationships with professionals and others, working together to get things done.
The report sets out recommendations to make co-production the norm to transforming public services so that they are effective, affordable and sustainable in the long term. These include:
Philip Colligan, Executive Director of NESTA's Public Services Lab says: 'Co-production is about organising services with people rather than doing services to them. It is a simple idea whose time has come. NESTA's work with nef and front line practitioners, has given us valuable insights into how co-production can tackle the root causes of people's problems and make a genuine difference over the long term'.
Public services face huge challenges ahead - a perfect storm - the need to reduce a £155 billion deficit, growing demands from an ageing population, the consequences of lifestyle choices such as obesity, changing expectations and persistent challenges like drug and alcohol abuse. NESTA and nef's work in this area has shown that co-production has the potential to transform public services so that they are better positioned to meet these challenges.
Co-production requires a fundamental change in the way services are currently offered because it is based on relationships rather than departmental structures. It offers an effective way of combining the public resources allocated to services with the assets of those who are intended to benefit from them promising better outcomes and a reduction of unnecessary waste.
Anna Coote, Head of Social Policy at nef says: 'The conventional model of public services delivery does not address the underlying reasons why many rely on public services in the first place. This method of service delivery has disempowered those people who are most in need of care. If we don't re-align the relationship between the state and citizens, we will be left with both in disarray: an unsustainable system and citizens who will have to fend for themselves.'
NESTA is the UK's foremost independent expert on how innovation can solve some of the country's major economic and social challenges. Its work is enabled by an endowment, funded by the National Lottery, and it operates at no cost to the government or taxpayer.
NESTA is a world leader in its field and carries out its work through a blend of experimental programmes, analytical research and investment in early-stage companies.
This report is the last of three reports from nef and NESTA. To download it, please go to www.nesta.org.uk
nef is an independent think-and-do tank that inspires and demonstrates real economic wellbeing. We aim to improve quality of life by promoting innovative solutions that challenge mainstream thinking on economic, environmental and social issues. We work in partnership and put people and the planet first. www.neweconomics.org
Co-production means delivering public services in an equal and reciprocal relationship between professionals, people using services, their families and their neighbours. Where activities are co-produced in this way, both services and neighbourhoods become far more effective agents of change.