Redefining service delivery

Lead Research Organisation: University of Birmingham
Department Name: INLOGOV


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Durose C (2017) Generating 'good enough' evidence for co-production in Evidence & Policy: A Journal of Research, Debate and Practice

Description Co-production is a potentially transformative approach to meeting the challenges faced by local public services, which understands services as 'the joint product of the activities of both citizens and government'.

The case for co-production is often made in terms of its potential relationship to efficiencies and cost-savings. But, the evidence base on co-production is limited and suggests that efficiency savings are not simple to achieve in the short-term.

There is a different way to think about maximising efficiencies through co-production, which encourages drawing existing resources together in creative ways.

Achieving this vision faces significant barriers and demands a new organisational culture of public service provision, which rests on:
Building a credible commitment between front-line professionals and communities, for example using co-design and creative practice and;
Incentivising citizens and front-line professionals in a way which is relevant to their values and experiences, for example providing opportunities for peer-to-peer learning.

Delivering co-production is less about 'scaling up', than taking a localist approach: 'scaling out' through sharing practice and spreading innovation between organisations.

How aspirations of co-production are communicated is crucial. Not only should messages be locally appropriate, but they should also recognise that the drive for efficiency is often insufficient to mobilise people if it is detached from a wider dialogue around developing a shared vision for change.
Exploitation Route The key implications of our findings for policy-makers and practitioners are specified below;

Neighbourhood community budgets, neighbourhood plans and community rights all offer a potentially significant shift of power to communities providing grounding for transformative co-production of local public services.

But how the ambition of transformative co-production is communicated is crucial. The message needs to engage with values and aspirations in order to motivate and mobilise people to work differently and take action.

Communication will need to be different within and across communities, localities and professional groups.

Transformative co-production depends on working with communities to bring together existing assets and resources in new and creative ways.

Local public delivery partners (as broadly defined, including voluntary, social enterprise, co-operative and mutual models) may be best able to understand and engage with such priorities and values ensuring that opportunities are communicated in credible and locally appropriate ways.

Community rights - particularly the 'right to challenge' - have been communicated as an opportunity for the community to 'take over'. This message has been interpreted on the ground as exacerbating an adversarial relationship between existing service providers and communities, rather than encouraging collaboration and synergy, and so may be counter-productive.
In commissioning services, the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012, which requires public authorities to have regard to economic, social and environmental well-being in connection with public service contracts, can help to ensure that small, local public and community organisations are able to compete fairly.

Incentivising and inspiring, through peer-to-peer learning which feels 'real and relevant' is crucial to spreading co-production.

Neighbourhood community budget pilots have demonstrated that flexible, innovative approaches are important to initiating and continuing the dialogue between professionals and communities. Co-design and creative practice offer ways to build a credible commitment and incentivise different stakeholders.

For neighbourhood planning, spatial and visualisation tools (such as digital maps, computer games and touch-tables) seem particularly appropriate way of engaging the community in problem-solving.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Government, Democracy and Justice

Description The review has provided a platform for sustained non-academic engagement and impact, through: use as an acknowledged 'key source' in the development of policy and practice at a national and local level; Board and Advisory group membership of public and third sector organisations, including the Delivering Differently in Neighbourhoods (DDiN) pilot programme for the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG); influencing the continuing development and design of national programmes such as DDiN and Our Place, for example, the inclusion of a peer learning approach in the programme and in guidance materials for local projects; keynote and plenary engagements with policy makers and practitioners as part of network and learning events; commissioned training; development work with a series of local projects and organisations, Turning Point, podnosh, Rochdale Borough-wide Housing, Castle Vale Community Housing Association/ Partnership, Birmingham City Council neighbourhood devolution, York City Council, Stewkley Parish Council; together with the generation of tools, heuristics and blogs, for example on DCLG Knowledge Hub, to enhance and provide resources for learning and policy implementation.
First Year Of Impact 2013
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Government, Democracy and Justice
Impact Types Societal,Policy & public services