co-production of public services

What is co-production and how can it help public services?

Monday 29 July, 2019

When it comes to the services offered by the public sector and civil service organisations, the public wants to do more and have more of a say in the services offered. As the citizens who have to use these services, doesn’t it make more sense for the citizens’ input to help shape them? Wouldn’t public services be more effective if they were a collaborative effort by interacting with the public? This is where co-production comes in play where the Public Sector can implement a community partnership to improve the services. Co-production, will be a crucial innovation within the Public Sector and Civil Service in the future in reshaping public services to find new forms of value.

62% of respondents feel they have no say in the design and delivery of their support services. 95% say they’d prefer to use services that are co-produced. It’s figures like these that will provide co-production with the momentum it needs to enter the mainstream.

What is co-production?

Co-production is an abstract concept with lots of varying definitions. It’s a way of creating and developing public services that involve citizens. The government doesn’t hand down a completed service. Instead, service recipients have a say in designing and shaping what’s on offer to them.

It’s a method in which everyday citizens share in resources, outcomes, and risks. In return, they get greater control over the decisions that affect them.

 

As co-production lacks one concrete definition, it’s open to interpretation. Individual organisations can create their own definitions of what co-production means to them. Not everyone has to utilise co-production in the same way. They can make the concept work for them and their specific business or service.

Shared resources

Co-production works on the notion that everyone has value and something to offer. As opposed to professionals making decisions, co-production includes wider society’s input as well. Citizens bring their own unique experiences, skills, opinions, and perspectives. These combine with those of the professionals and expands the available resources.

Some citizens will have experienced the need for a service first-hand. Because of this, they bring valuable insight to the table; one that those in charge of the service likely won’t have. Co-production breaks down barriers. It makes the development of public services more collaborative and effective. Removing the power imbalance between professionals and citizens allows everyone to offer their insight and input.

Encourages reciprocity

Co-production encourages fair, equal, and mutually beneficial relationships. After giving their input, citizens feel heard and are more empowered and motivated to be involved further. If citizens feel passionate about something, they’re more likely to put their time and effort into service development. Citizens’ time, effort, and unique perspectives are what the services get in return for giving sharing the control.

Co-production doesn’t focus on a citizen’s passive need, but instead adopts the idea of active citizens. Effective co-production aligns professionals and citizens as equals and encourages them to work together to create services that are as effective as possible. As a result, society sees better outcomes from its public services.

Co-production also works to reduce inequality. Everyone is given a voice and the option to add input. This means those who are commonly overlooked have a chance to make a difference.

Cost-effective

There are a few ways that co-production can be cost-effective. First of all, less money is wasted on ineffective or unwanted services. With input from the general public, services are more likely to be genuinely useful. Those with insight will influence the creation of services, decreasing the likelihood of a service being a failure or a waste of money.

The idea of only effective and required services being on offer also reduces costs through prevention. Especially in the health sector, reducing services to only those that actually make a difference will decrease the costs of treatment over time. For example, if there are effective addiction services readily available, over time there might be decreased demand for overdose treatments.

Co-production is a concept that strives to encourage mutually beneficial relationships between professionals and citizens. With public services, it aims to create services that are most effective and useful. It does this by recognising the value of citizens and by encouraging service recipients to have a say in service development.

At the Civil Service College we offer policy skills courses to help refine your policy making and implementation. Our co-production course offers insight into how you can use the value of citizens to promote positive change in public services. If you have any questions or want to book onto a course, get in touch on 020 8069 9000.



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