Thursday, 15 October 2009

Role of user and community co-production in service transformation

Martin Ferguson of SOCITM has been asking for issues to raise at a forthcoming PSI event on service delivery, which would interest colleagues from Cabinet Office and other Whitehall departments. The following suggestions are mainly taken from my reply. You can add your own comments here - or at his blog (

A key element in service transformation in the next decade will be intensifying and systematising the co-production of services by users and other citizens - expert patients in health, recycling champions in local environmental services, neighbourhood watch convenors, peer support in social wellbeing, 'street champions' in neighbourhood service commissioning, 'job buddies' for NEETs, etc.

SOCITM members, and others working in social media, can help in several ways - one is just in improving the content and availability of information on WHAT co-production is happening and HOW to support it, but another key role is in connecting up all the users and citizens who already do a lot and want to do more, with professionals who can find ways of making use of their contribution.

Building up the role of co-production is a two-way process - in the public services, it's about helping professionals to understand and to access the huge contribution which users and other citizens can make to improving services; for users and citizens it's about helping them to use the expertise of professional service providers so that their largely self-organising activities become more effective, more widely spread, and less burdensome to them.

Of course, many local authorities (and probably most of Whitehall) will be especially interested in the potential efficiency savings arising from user and community co-production. We're currently researching this for LARCI (the Local Authorities Research Council Initiative). Ideas, examples and case studies gratefully received!

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