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The Challenge of Co-Production

This paper explores the meaning of co-production and the benefits it can bring to public services.

This paper explores the meaning of co-production and the benefits it can bring to public services.

Key findings:

  • Co-production means that public services are delivered by both professionals and users. It makes services and neighbourhoods far more effective agents of change.
  • Focusing purely on cost-efficiency creates a ‘race to the bottom’ in public service provision. Shorter-term horizons are fed by ever narrower outputs.
  • The opportunities are huge, but there plenty of remaining barriers to creating the conditions for co-production.

Co-production as a new way of thinking about public services has the potential to deliver a major shift in the way we provide health, education, policing and other services, in ways that make them much more effective, more efficient, and so more sustainable.

 

Given the current diversity of uses of the term, this paper also explains what co-production isn't and demonstrates why co-production looks set to create the most important revolution in public services since the Beveridge Report in 1942. 

 

The paper also diagnoses why public service reform is stalled, and why a radically new approach - sharing the design and delivery of services with users - can break this logjam and make services more effective for the public, more cost-effective for policymakers, and more sustainable for all of us.

 

Authors
David Boyle and Michael Harris