CO-PRODUCTION IN ACTION: Co-production Cardiff style

Amy McCarthy of Cardiff Council writes…

We all know the challenges that face councils and public service providers in the age of austerity. Across the public sector we are all going to have to deliver more for less. It is important that we find new, creative and innovative ways of providing services to the public that meet their changing and evolving needs. There is a growing evidence-base to suggest that working with communities and citizens rather than just delivering services to them, results in the achievement of better quality and more sustained outcomes, and higher levels of satisfaction. This way of working is called co-production. In order to try and harness the potential of the emerging approaches to co-productive working, Cardiff Council and its local partners have established a Working Group to develop and promote these ideas. Membership of the Working Group includes representatives from; Cardiff Council, Health, local social enterprises, South Wales Police, and Cardiff University. The aim of the group is to build upon the excellent collaborative working that is already taking place across our nation’s capital. But…. there is far more that could be done, and enormous potential that can be unleashed. To facilitate this transformation in how Cardiff works with its communities and citizens, the role of the Working Group is to:
Demonstrate how this approach can reduce the costs of delivering key services
Develop a more co-ordinated approach to engagement between the partners in Cardiff
Help people to take responsibility for solving their own problems
Share information and best practice about citizen need
Mobilise communities to have an equal voice in building social cohesion
A recent presentation to the Cardiff Partnership Board (Cardiff’s Local Service Board) showcased existing co-productive works and projects across Cardiff via an illustrative DVD of best practice case studies (an online link to a paperback version and clips of the DVD shall be available shortly).  The board, consisting of key senior executives across various sectors, were impressed by the examples provided and agreed to the following recommendations:
– The enrolment of the core principles of Co-Production to be integrated across partnerships and to establish pilot initiatives.
– Co-Production as a methodology to be introduced and rolled out across to all partner organisations, therefore offering joint partnership education and training to support staff development in terms of delivery and ethos change.
– There will need to be joint policy arrangements with built-in measures so that Co Production can be monitored and used effectively across the partnership.
– Co-production methodology to be a running theme throughout key policies such as the neighbourhood management white paper and some practical suggestions to be developed on how co production could be monitored at a local level in line with existing outcome based approaches.
The chair of the Cardiff Partnership Board rightly raised that the partners needed to look practically at how this would work without the support of communities first and other local action groups. This was noted but the group felt where ever a stimulus for action was, and the right people involved it would work anywhere, with the right support.
This is an important way forward for co production working in Cardiff, for the public sector to gain buy in from so many organisations.  The working group will now concentrate on the next steps to make the recommendations a reality and to truly affect public sector practice.
For further information please contact Amy McCarthy, Citizen Engagement at Cardiff Council. amy.mccarthy2@cardiff.gov.uk / 02920 873237
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