The case for co-production


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We submitted this document to the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership. The document argues for a co-production model in the EU-SIF. Learn more:

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The case for co-production

  1. 1. 1 Case For Co-production Paper submitted to the LLEP by the VCS Economic Sounding Board, July 2014 1.0 Introduction This paper presents an argument for using co-production as the central principle in the development of bids for the social inclusion strand of the European Structural and Investment Fund (ESIF). It presents a case for co-production to be the main method of engagement for the Thematic Objective 9 (TO9) of the European Structural Fund. It highlights a number of strengths of this method in terms of the ability to produce effective and inclusive services, and develop the skills and capacity of service users. The paper also outlines the reasons why co-production is central to current social policy, and argues that the Leicestershire VCS are uniquely well placed to deliver co-produced programmes for the target groups identified in the LLEP’s strategy, illustrating this with a number of case studies of where this approach has been used. 2.0 Recommendations It is therefore recommended that: • Co-production is adopted to produce a business case for the TO9 strand of the European Structural Fund. Approval and support from the LLEP would enable the partners to start work on a programme of co-production to design services for the target groups in this strand, and apply to the Big Lottery for funding to enable this process. • Co-production is considered by the LLEP for other strands of the fund, where strong service user involvement would have a beneficial effect on outcomes. 3.0 Background • Co-production is a broad concept incorporating different levels of service users and providers working together to design and deliver public services.
  2. 2. 2 • A form of co-production (community led development) is currently favoured by the EU, who have published guidelines on how to implement community led initiatives, including why they are beneficial to a social inclusion programme1 . • This shift coincides with the experience of the Leicestershire Voluntary and Community Sector, who have increasingly used community-led methods to work collaboratively and establish key needs and appropriate solutions with vulnerable groups. Recent successful programmes that have been developed and continue to be delivered in this manner include Talent Match (to help young people in the job market) and Improving Financial Confidence (to help young social housing tenants develop their financial management skills). The Leicestershire VCS therefore has experience of developing programmes in this way. It has acquired knowledge of the pitfalls to avoid and the techniques that make it work. It is also delivering successful outcomes as a result of this approach. 4.0 What is Co-production? Co-production is an ‘asset-based’ approach. This means that there is a focus on the abilities, knowledge and potential of people, rather than treating them as passive recipients of services. Services therefore develop as a result of the experience of service users, and those service users develop their own skills and knowledge through their co- ownership of the service. This helps them create ownership of both the delivery mechanisms and the outcomes derived as a result of co-production. “Co-production is not merely consultation; asking the advice of service users may help to create space for co-production, but can lack continuing involvement in the delivery. Similarly, when communities or users organise provision with no involvement from public service professionals, while it can be of value, it is not co- production. Co-production occurs in the critical middle ground when users and professional knowledge are combined to design and deliver services.” Breeze et al 20132 Horne and Shirley (2009) have characterised co-production against other models of service delivery, shown below.3 1 European Structural and Investment Funds (2014) Guidance on Community-Led Development for Local Actors 2 Breeze, J, Cummings, C, Jackson, M, McIroy, N and Nolan, A (2013) Addressing Poverty Through Local Governance, York, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, p.27. 3 Horne, M and Shirley T (2009) Coproduction in public services: a new partnership with citizens, Presentation to the Cabinet Office Strategy Unit
  3. 3. 3 5.0 Different levels of co-production Co-production can involve different types of service user engagement and can be described by several different terms. However, the critical point is the level of engagement and decision-making given to service users. Needham places the level of engagement on a three-point scale:4 • Descriptive: low level of input from service users, may even be at the level of ‘compliance’ (i.e. not objecting). • Intermediate: fuller level of co-production may include a role for service users in the recruitment or training of professionals. • Transformative: includes service users as central to shaping the provision and asks what assets they can bring. All levels include the assumption that service users are involved in shaping the definition of the problem, not just the solutions. However, to be properly transformative service users need to have decision-making responsibilities, in conjunction with providers. 6.0 Why is Co-production important in current policy? Co-production is a relatively modern term for an ethos that has its roots in the self-help groups of the Victorian era (Biagini and Sutcliffe 2011). The term was first coined in the 1970’s in US-based sociological literature, and there are number of reasons why co- production has gained increasing currency in EU social policy debates, in particular for services aimed at developing social inclusion and tackling inequality. 4 Needham, C (2009) Co-production: an emerging evidence base for adult social care transformation, Research Briefing, Social Care Institute for Excellence.
  4. 4. 4 Firstly, as Breeze et al have noted public services of the past 60 years have not significantly narrowed inequalities of health or income in the UK.5 Poverty for certain groups and in certain areas has remained an issue even in times of high public expenditure. Limited public funds since the financial crisis of 2008 and pressures on public services as a result of demographic change in the UK have led several funders to decide against continuing with a traditional top-down approach to service design and delivery, reasoning that it is not effective to use the same approach on a decreasing scale. Secondly, as a response to continuing inequalities and to the changing expectations of service users, public service models have increasingly looked to be responsive and encourage choice for service users. This has resulted in a number of services adopting choice-based mechanisms (for example choice-based letting in housing or increased parental choice in education) during the last decade. However, these policies received criticism for presenting service users with a narrow, limited choice, rather than genuinely engaging and influencing the service they received.6 Co-production encapsulates a more thorough engagement, allowing service users to shape their provision rather than choosing from a menu of similar options. Thirdly, public services have received criticism for being inflexible in their approach. Breeze et al note that service targets have frequently focused on outputs rather than outcomes, which have often been set by central government. They argue that such an approach discourages innovation in design and delivery of local services, and can often make it harder for services to work together and address issues in a holistic manner. 7.0 Strengths of Co-production Co-production has been promoted as a potential solution to these problems, both the long-standing problem of designing effective services for vulnerable people and the more recent fiscal issue of reduced government expenditure. The EU has stated the key strengths of the approach and these are summarised below7 . Many of these of these benefits have been experienced by groups in Leicester and Leicestershire, highlighted in the case studies in section 9. • Developing capacity. Encouraging service users to take a lead role in the services they receive can help local people to improve their own skills and experience as they help to develop services for their community, as well as a sense of ownership and pride which in time translates to more effective and 5 Breeze, J, et al (2013) Addressing Poverty Through Local Governance, York, Joseph Rowntree Foundation. 6 For example see Powell M, Greener, I, Szmigin, I, Doheny, S and Mills, N (2010) Broadening the focus of public service consumerism, Public Management Review, 12(3), 323-339. 7 European Structural and Investment Funds (2014) Guidance on Community-Led Development for Local Actors.
  5. 5. 5 positive outcomes of the service provision. For example, Needham (2012) has found evidence of improved skills and reduced welfare dependency through initiatives such as time banks. Other stated benefits include improving long-term health and well being of service users and volunteers, for example on Expert Patient Programmes. 8 • Responding to local need. Co-production leads to a better understanding of what is valued by service users and how outcomes are achieved, as well as the specific conditions for people in local markets. • Flexibility. Co-production has the potential to be transformative, in that it can make decision makers, professionals and service users question their roles and adapt their practice based on their interaction with service users. • Innovation. Because those using a service lead co-production, the process highlights linkages and connections between different providers, leads to knowledge sharing, and shows where there are breaks in a customer/service user journey. A demand-led approach to service design can lead to the development of new and innovative ways of meeting need. • Building Relationships. Because co-produced programmes are issue-led they can bring together groups and professionals who would not normally work together. Consequently stakeholder groups from different services and sectors have an opportunity to work together with their service users. The process helps breaks down misconceptions and barriers to communication for partner organisations and beneficiaries. This enables the development and delivery of a more holistic approach to the problem that is being addressed. It can also help to reduce costs and waste. • Eligibility. The EU Social Fund advocates this approach, which was formerly limited to rural development, so it is likely to gain currency throughout Europe as a method of promoting social inclusion. Equally, there are a number of developing networks internationally to share good practice. • Efficiency. Co-production can lead to service efficiencies, as the process can highlight duplication as well as develop community capacity, which can relive pressure on services. Accessing and utilising the assets of service users which may be freely given (e.g. recycling, litter picking, peer advocacy) can reduce demands on formal staff (e.g. informal carers, breastfeeding support groups)9 . Equally efficiency is encouraged through concentrating budgets on things that are most relevant to service users, as in the case of participatory budgeting. 8 Needham C (2012) Co-production: building an efficiency case, Presentation to Governance International Conference. 9 Needham C (2012) Co-production: building an efficiency case, Presentation to Governance International Conference.
  6. 6. 6 8.0 Challenges for co-production However, these benefits are dependent on the correct implementation of co-production, and the continuing engagement of both service users and providers. Both the European Union and academics such as Du Rose et al note that these benefits require a long-term commitment to both community development and partnership working, and this engagement may require resources. Bashir et al note that young people will disengage if their involvement appears tokenistic, equally Du Rose et al note that a focus cost-cutting measures are likely to lead to a loss of faith and engagement amongst service users.1011 A critical element in this process is trust: providers have to trust services users and service users trust the judgement and commitment of professionals. Communication between the two parties is crucial to ensure that service users feel engaged in the process and can see the effects of their decisions. VCS groups are particularly well- placed to ensure that this engagement is continuing due to their close relationships with beneficiaries. Trust between partners is equally important as strong elements of collaboration are required during service design, delivery and review stages and several guides to co- production discuss suitable safeguards to enable productive working relationships. For example, in their guide to coproduction the Social Care Institute for Excellence note that four elements are central to successfully implementing a co-productive method, providing a series of organisational checklists to ensure that these conditions are satisfied12 : • Culture: the beliefs and values that define an organisation and the way that it works • Structure: the way the organisation is arranged and the systems it has set up to carry out its work • Practice: how the organisation and the people who work for it carry out their work • Review: monitoring how the work is carried out and the outcomes or impacts that result from the work. The full list of recommendations associated with each title is included in Appendix 1. It should be remembered however, that this is developed for social care settings: working with marginalised and vulnerable groups may require a stronger focus on incentives for engagement and capacity building to enable service users to participate. Leicestershire VCS groups have considerable experience of running co-production, ensuring these conditions are maintained and collaborative relationships between 10 Bashir, N, Atfield and Wells, P (2013) Talent Match Evaluation and Learning Contract 2013-19 Big Lottery Fund. 11 Durose, C, Mangan, C, Needham, C and Rees, J (2013) Transforming local public services through co- production, London, AHRC. 12 Social Care Institute for Excellence (2014) Co-production in social care: What it is and how to do it, London: SCIE
  7. 7. 7 delivery partners flourish, and service users maintain a guiding hand on the direction of the project. Section 8 will outline some local examples of this. 9.0 Examples of Co-production in Leicester and Leicestershire Talent Match (Budget: £2.7 million) Leicestershire’s Talent Match is a programme of initiatives to help young people into work, co-produced with young people and delivered by a number of VCS organisations working collaboratively. The recognised strength of the programme was the decision- making role given to the Talent Match panel, which enabled young people to develop their skills and attain qualifications, providers to test their delivery plans, and a set of services suited to the needs and aspirations of young people to emerge. The programme is currently being delivered, and young people retain a central role in ensuring it meets its outcomes. The bid development phase of Talent Match was split into two parts - a prospectus stage and business planning. From the beginning it was agreed that young people should guide the direction of the project, initially through engagement events where young people gave their views on existing need, services and what activities would have the greatest effect on youth employment. 50 young people engaged with this process, and a panel of 6 core volunteers emerged. This panel had a key role in selecting the areas that Talent Match would operate in, as well as the organisations they would be working with to develop the business case for the programme. From this process, The Princes Trust was selected to lead the programme. The business planning stage initially involved a mapping exercise to understand the range of services working with the young people, both to develop a list of potential delivery partners and ensure that the Talent Match programme did not duplicate existing provision. Other engagement took place with young people to ensure continuing engagement and develop evaluation criteria for the programme. The final business plan including governance arrangements, a plan of referral routes and a fundraising strategy, was developed by a combination of project partners, young people and local employers. This model had a number of key benefits. The young people involved in the programme development gained skills and experience, but also ensured that the services developed addressed the issues that were relevant to them. The close involvement of young people and other partners in the business planning also had the effect of galvanising the partnership, as all groups were accountable to the young people involved in the programme, rather than another organisation. Because all partners had a clear commitment to co-production, this gave the programme a clear focus and set of values: namely the needs and aspirations of young people.
  8. 8. 8 Improving Financial Confidence (Budget £900k) Improving financial confidence is a programme funded by the Big Lottery, aimed at enabling social housing tenants to become more confident and more aware of how to take control of their finances. The programme is lead by Leicester Housing Association (Part of asra Housing Group) and supported by the Reaching People consortium, and was developed in conjunction with its future beneficiaries who continue to support the development of the innovative element of the programme.. It is scheduled to last for 3-5 years in 37 pilot areas. Initial development for this project was hosted through Voluntary Action LeicesterShire and included a wide range of VCS and statutory partners. These initial sessions were aimed at defining the issue to be addressed and recruiting suitable partner organisations. Due to the focus of the programme it was recognised that a housing association or advice service were suitable organisation to lead the bid and LHA were selected by peer organisations to take this role. A working group was formed to establish a plan for engaging young tenants around the issue of financial confidence, resulting in a questionnaire completed by 450 respondents, and follow up interviews to develop certain emerging themes. Following this there was a consultation day with around 20 young people to discuss the emerging issues, and develop solutions that were acceptable to both service users and providers. The final business plan was taken back to this group of young people for amendments and approval. Following the award of funds, the project has continued to be co-produced. One of the key features of this project is that delivery has been flexible to ensure that service users remain engaged and that effective products can be developed for the pilot projects. For example, service users were initially seated on a decision making board with managers, but organisational arrangements were changed when it was felt that the service users did not have sufficient confidence or voice within this environment. An alternative system was designed to ensure that service users retained an effective voice through service user groups working to develop pilot products. East Street Refurbishment As part of a multi-million pound refurbishment project to The Y’s main office at East Street, several levels of co-production took place. This included engaging young people in the early aspects of the feasibility study through working groups facilitated by consultants. Following this, the young people, their views and aspirations were further sought through a number of co-production forum meetings where young people were able to actively engage in the specific design of the project. Within this process the design of the building was altered considerably to take into consideration the outcomes of the process young people had engaged in. Co-production was further enhanced as The Y were able to write into the contract that the contractor would employ a minimum of four young people in real jobs for the duration
  9. 9. 9 of the refurbishment programme. This enabled young people who were involved from early concept to actual delivery to have real ownership of the building they were now living in. The result of this is that both the standard of the accommodation and the upkeep of that standard has been maintained and is ultimately a key factor in the awarding of future contracts. Y-POD (Budget: £1Million) Y-POD is a Big Lottery funded programme working with the most marginalised Care leavers and young offenders in the city. As part of the Y-POD funding round, it was essential that a co-production model was implemented and young people were core to its design and delivery at all points. In achieving this, Y-POD has had in place a shadow board consisting of Looked After Children and young people engaged in the criminal justice system who have fundamentally contributed to the shaping of the project, both in relation to original application and actual service delivery. In supporting the application, young people were interviewed by the Big Lottery, subsequently played an active role in the recruitment of staff and continued to act as a shadow board providing a conduit between the strategic partners and young people. Additionally, shadow board members have all been trained in leadership and have further developed the service by carrying out research and development around education (Discovery College) and therapeutic housing for young people.
  10. 10. 10 Contact Heather Roythorne – Finch Economic Inclusion Policy Officer Voluntary Action LeicesterShire 9 Newarke Street Leicester LE1 5SN 0116 2574986 Nick Mills Researcher Officer Voluntary Action LeicesterShire 9 Newarke Street Leicester LE15SN 0116 2575033 VCS LLEP Sounding Board: Advice Leicester Partnership African Caribbean Citizens Forum (ACCF) Asra Housing Group b-inspired CASE Communities in Partnership (CIP) Cooke E-Learning Foundation East Midlands Housing Fit For Work Team Hft Leicestershire Highfields Community Association Joined Up Working Kickstarting CIC LASS (Leicestershire AIDS Support Services) Leicester Lesbian and Gay Action Prince's Trust (The) Race Equality Centre (TREC) (The) Reaching People Skills for Enterprise The Leicester Enterprise Club UK CIC The Y (Leicester YMCA) Voluntary Action LeicesterShire (VAL) Voluntary Action South Leicestershire (VASL) Whitwick Community Enterprises
  11. 11. 11 Appendix 1: Recommendations for the implementation of Co Production13 Culture • Ensure that co-production runs through the culture of an organisation. • Ensure that this culture is built on a shared understanding of what co- production is, a set of principles for putting the approach into action and the benefits and outcomes that will be achieved with the approach. • Ensure that organisations develop a culture of being risk aware rather than risk averse. Structure • Involve everyone who will be taking part in the co-production from the start. • Value and reward people who take part in the co-production process. • Ensure that there are resources to cover the cost of co-production activities. • Ensure that co-production is supported by a strategy that describes how things are going to be communicated. • Build on existing structures and resources. Practice • Ensure that everything in the co-production process is accessible to everyone taking part and nobody is excluded. • Ensure that everyone involved has enough information to take part in co- production and decision making. • Ensure that everyone involved is trained in the principles and philosophy of co- production and any skills they will need for the work they do. • Think about whether an independent facilitator would be useful to support the process of co-production. • Ensure that frontline staff are given the opportunity to work using co-production approaches, with time, resources and flexibility. • Provide any support that is necessary to make sure that the community involved has the capacity to be part of the co-production process. • Ensure that policies and procedures promote the commissioning of services that use co-production approaches. • Ensure that there are policies for co-production in the actual process of commissioning. Review • Carry out regular reviews to ensure that co-production is making a real difference and that the process is following the agreed principles. • Co-produce reviews and evaluations. • Use the review findings to improve ways of applying the principles of co- production, so that continuous learning is taking place. 13 Social Care Institute for Excellence (2014) Co-production in social care: What it is and how to do it, London: SCIE, P.5.
  12. 12. 12 • During reviews and evaluations, work with people who use services and carers, to think about ways of showing the impact that co-production has, as well as the processes that are involved.