How could the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities promote co-production?

Three priorities from our Conversations on Co-production

 

The Government has announced £2bn to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping over the next three years.

How the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) allocates this funding is key to ending rough sleeping; and engaging people with experience of homelessness through co-production will lead to the best decisions being made.

 

This month, our Conversation on Co-production focused on how DLUHC could promote co-production, and bring about real change to people's lives?

 

Here are three priorities:

 

1. Put the voice of lived experience at the heart of the DLUHC

Members suggest that DLUHC use part of its funding in a way that promotes the voice of lived experience. This could be through:

• Setting up regional groups of people with lived experience of homelessness to review and make recommendations.

• Ensuring DLUHC are offering employment opportunities to people with lived experience at decision making level, enabling the ‘torch of co-production to be carried from the groups all the way to the top!’

• Funding a pilot scheme for different groups of people with lived experience, trained in research, to evaluate Local Authorities' co-production approaches. DLUHC could then promote recommendations for improvement and best practice from across areas where Local Authorities are doing really well. We all learn from feedback, so DLUHC could act on data gathered from across the country to work with Local Authorities that may require more support, ensuring that co-production is being embedded successfully across all areas. This pilot would encourage best practice, draw on strengths of others' work and create a sense of togetherness. It would also enable the learning from experiences at local levels to feed in best practice of co-production up to the national level.

“It's a self-reflective thing where people are constantly thinking about what they're doing and how they're doing it, and how they could do it differently going forward. You know, that constant development…I'm thinking we can get local groups all around the country, to be the evaluators of this and to gather that data, then we can support those local authorities that need more support”

 

2. Develop a collective voice of standards

To enable the sharing of best practice of co-production across local authorities, we need to first determine what ‘best practice’ actually looks like. How can we do this?

• People with lived experience can work together to draft ‘co-production standards’ to be implemented across Local Authorities. After adopting the standards, an evaluation of the implementation could be independently assessed by a third party – an objective, independent outsider.

“Evaluating the quality of people’s relationships and how they are built and maintained, is extremely important.”

• Training sessions on co-production, based on the independent evaluation, could be offered for staff at various levels within Local Authorities. This could have a specific focus on how to work with people with learned experience and lived experience.

Members of the Conversation on Co-production believe that having a centralized process driven by DLUHC will make it easier to standardize the quality and evaluate successful co-production practice.

 

3. Making co-production a requirement for funding

The DLUHC has within its gift to require local authorities to demonstrate co-production in their bids for funding, as they did in the prospectus for the Next Steps Accommodation Programme.

DLUHC could monitor the effectiveness of this requirement and work to replicate it throughout DLUHC funded programmes. Support could be offered to areas on how to meet the requirement, including developing a ‘business as usual’ approach for local authorities to involve beneficiaries in funding bids so that systems are in place to meet tight deadlines.

 

Expert Link believes that true and meaningful co-production is the most effective way for departments and organisations to develop fairer and appropriate policies and processes. By working with the people that have lived or are living through the impact that departmental decisions have on them, we are able to shine a light on better, more effective ways of working -crucial and beneficial for all involved.

 

If you are wanting some pointers on getting started with co-production, check out Expert Links videos here.

To hear about and join in with future conversations, sign up to our newsletter here.