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August 31, 2010

More for more is a no-brainer

Co-production is one of those buzz words increasingly used to describe how we might achieve more for less when the cuts in public services really begin to bite.  But as a new report published by NESTA and NEF makes clear, if we can successfully bring co-production  into the mainstream it will mean not more for less but more for more – because this approach unlocks and values the “assets” that consumers of public services bring to the table

– a summary of an event to discuss the nef/NESTA report

Full report :  Right Here, Right Now: taking co-production into the mainstream.

Tackling the barriers

The discussion focused on the barriers to taking co-production into the mainstream of public services. There was a consensus in the room that commissioning arrangements and capturing the value of co-produced services were among a number of hurdles that need to be overcome. Workforce skills were also identified as an area for further work.

The report offers some recommendations about how to do this, and we’ll also be commissioning a series of practical experiments to test out how to mainstream co-production.

More for more

Philip Colligan outlined that co-production is not about more for less but instead about more for more, as this approach unlocks and values the “assets” that users of public services have. Garath Symonds stated that it was important to learn by doing co-production, whilst Anna Coote talked about the importance of this approach in promoting social justice and tackling inequality.


There was a sense of optimism in the room and a view that this is the right time to take co-production from the margins into the mainstream.

What is co-production?

Put simply, co-production demonstrates that people’s needs are better met when they are involved in an equal and reciprocal relationship with professionals and others, working together to get things done.

This is the key to transforming public services so that they are effective, affordable and sustainable in the long term. The ‘big society’ needs co-production at its heart – not as a marginal experiment, but as the standard way of planning and delivering services. Our aim is to establish co-production as a new paradigm for designing and delivering services.

For almost a year now we have been working with a group of innovative front line practitioners, and have gained valuable insights into the radical potential of co-production.