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A New Agenda for Co-Creating Public Services

Fox, Christopher and Baines, Susan and Wilson, Rob and Jalonen, Harri and Narbutaite Aflaki, Inga and Prandini, Riccardo and Bassi, Andrea and Ganugi, Giulia and Aramo-Immonen, Heli (2021) A New Agenda for Co-Creating Public Services. Research Report. Turku University of Applied Sciences, Turku, Finland.

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Abstract

The world is changing rapidly. We face increasing and new social needs such as ageing populations; mass immigration; the rise of long-term, chronic health conditions such as diabetes; high rates of unemployment for young people; a mental health epidemic; increasing loneliness across the generations; homelessness; and, new trends in substance misuse. At the same time we have witnessed the rise of populism, nationalism and the erosion of public trust in government and public services. Economic shocks of recent years including the financial crisis that started in 2008 and the current COVID-19 crisis is making difficult decisions about the future of public services more immediate. If improvements in public wellbeing are to be achieved we need public services designed to deliver social outcomes more effectively for less resources and in more joined-up ways. However, the way that public institutions design and deliver these services also needs to change. There is recognition, from across the political spectrum and civil society that top- down policy-making and faceless, impersonal and sometimes inadequate in addressing the problems at hand public services are out of step with people’s expectations in the twenty first century. People want something different from their governments and from their public services: “In recent years, there has been a radical reinterpretation of the role of policy making and service delivery in the public domain. Policy making is no longer seen as a purely top-down process but rather as a negotiation among many interacting policy systems. Similarly, services are no longer simply delivered by professional and managerial staff in public agencies but are coproduced by users and their communities.” (Bovaird 2007: 846) Many models of innovation involve co-creation, which implies that people who use (or potentially use) public services work with providers to initiate, design, deliver and evaluate them (Voorberg et al. 2015, Torfing et al. 2019). The goal of the Co-Creation of Public Service Innovation in Europe project (CoSIE) is to contribute to democratic renewal and social inclusion through co- creating innovative public services by more actively engaging diverse citizen groups and stakeholders in varied public services beyond traditional and less effective participation channels, such as consultative boards. This paper draws together key findings from CoSIE with a particular focus on what these imply for new policy and practice in public services in the form of a discussion paper aimed at European, national and regional policy-makers. The big ideas emerging from CoSIE can be grouped together as ideas associated with conceptualising co-creation, implementing co- creation and moving beyond piloting co-creation to extending co-creation across systems.

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