The policy and legislative move towards endorsing co-production in Wales started in the social care and health sectors, and has since widened to include all public services. It began as far back as 2011, and is still being emphasised today in all the key devolved policy documents.
Sustainable Social Services for Wales: A Framework for Action (2011) stated that a better practice of co-production across public bodies would contribute to “a stronger citizen voice and greater control”, which will would bring about “better focussed, responsive and citizen-centred social services”.
The Prudent Healthcare principles (2013) spell out the intention to “achieve health and well-being with the public, patients and professionals as equal partners through co-production”.
The Williams Commission on Public Services (2014) calls for “new models of delivery which focus on prevention, early intervention and demand management through co-production and citizen engagement”.
According to the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014, the Welsh Government, Local Health Boards and Local Authorities have a duty to promote the well-being of citizens and communities. The Codes of Practice in relation to Part 2 of the Act note that “essential to fulfilling this duty will be an approach which is based on co-production principles”, including putting robust arrangements in place for encouraging the involvement of people at an individual, organisational and strategic level.
The Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) 2015 Act includes the Involvement principle: “the importance of involving people with an interest in achieving the well-being goals, and ensuring that those people reflect the diversity of the area which they serve”, which includes an understanding of the benefits of involving as wide a range of people as possible in helping shape the decisions and services that will affect their lives.
(Note: the principles underpinning involvement as described in the Act match the co-production principles and the Network is now using both terms interchangeably.)
“The Future Generations Act presents an opportunity to work differently and engage with others to develop innovative solutions to the challenges that we face” (Taking Wales Forwards, 2016). “If we are to realise the full potential of the Well-being of Future Generations Act, then integration and collaboration between services, with an early intervention and people-centred approach, is essential for delivering long-term outcomes” (Prosperity For All, 2017).
The issues facing public services “can only be tackled through new ways of working, including joined up programmes which reinforce and build on what people and communities are doing for themselves” (Taking Wales Forwards, 2016). “How we deliver is just as important as what we deliver, and in order to make a real difference to people’s lives, we need to do things differently and involve people in shaping the services they use every day.” (Prosperity for All, 2017).
“Continuous engagement and an ongoing conversation with the Welsh population will ensure everyone has a voice in our whole system approach and how it develops” (A Healthier Wales: Our Plan for Health and Social Care, 2018). This plan includes ten national design principles to drive change and transformation, one of which is Voice: empowering people with the information and support they need to contribute to improving the whole system approach. Continuous engagement is described as different organisations engaging on a collaborative basis, rather than separately, continuously, and on a more holistic basis, in an ongoing conversations with citizens and communities.
Mark Drakeford’s First Minister Manifesto (2018) notes the need to “reaffirm prevention, early intervention and co-production as the underpinning principles of our approach”.