Is the Governments “Next Steps Accommodation Programme” a lost opportunity to end homelessness?

We started our Conversation on Co-production to discuss Next Steps Accommodation Programme with a quick poll asking the question, “Is your local authority area involving service users in any bid?” We used the Government Guidance as reference.

“As well as MHCLG, Homes England and the GLA, coproduction should be carried out in collaboration with relevant stakeholders and partners, including service users, support providers, health and social care commissioners, local voluntary organisations, probation services, registered providers and landlords (para 53, our emphasis).”
(Next Steps Accommodation Programme Guidance)

It was fantastic to hear that 21% of areas were genuinely involving “service users” in developing their bids and really heart-warming to hear some of the reactions from those whom this is all about.

“Made me think that they were thinking about me”;
Service User

But it came as no surprise that most of the areas involving service users already have some sort co-production going on with some great facilitators who know how to build and maintain relationships across broad groups of different stakeholders.

We weren’t unsurprised to hear that 21% were definitely not involving service users citing time as their excuse for not doing so.

The most notable thing, at least for me, was the 58% who didn’t know whether their local areas were involving service users in their bids. The context of the meeting was the NSAP and the attendees were all active supporters and or practitioners of co-production, so the big question is “why didn’t they know?”

We do understand, and empathise with, the challenges that local authority commissioners face.

“Do we go out and do something tokenistic because of the time frame or better not to do anything at all because that’s [tokenism] an insult?” Local Commissioner

The Government have hardly given the time Local Authorities need to bring all stakeholders together to develop innovative successful pathways.

“…..and if we want to make the most of this money it can’t be a four week lead in. Seems such a missed opportunity” Local Commissioner

But there is still time. Even with the limited resources that local authorities have, including time, there really is no excuse to not have “service users” involved. More importantly it doesn’t have to be tokenistic.

This comes down to attitude and the willingness of local authorities and services to involve “service users”. They could still refuse to do so, or worse, be blatantly tokenistic in their efforts. There is however another route that they could choose to take.

Local Authorities and services could choose to approach this with genuine good intention and do something, however small, and frame it as “we wanted to do more and better but because of the time frame we couldn’t”. That honesty and vulnerability means they don’t have to come up with full blown co-production. And with a genuine promise to build upon it, you may well be super prepared for the next time.

For us in the co-production world we want to support and help you as much as we can playing our part in creating a better world.

“We should do what we can when we can, even if it’s just a phone call”
Attendee of CoC

“We should recognise that this is part of a longer journey and that we will all have to comprise along the way
Attendee of CoC

We don’t just want this to be about a bid today. This is about a future where we are all valued for who we are and skills within our gifts.

The temptation of the sector to “snap” back to norm. Co-production should be a way and not an event”
Attendee of CoC

How Expert Link can help

As leading practitioners of systems change globally, we have put together a free webinar "Supporting Your 'Next Steps Accommodation' Bid" that will show ways to collect the voices of services users to support your bids or your research, recognise some of the barriers and overcome them.
What you will learn

  • The three principles for co-production
  • The three keys to collecting service user voices
  • Key barriers
  • Managing expectations
  • Two methods to collect voices
  • How to frame it