'Next Steps' for Co-production


The Next Steps Accommodation Programme is a massive opportunity to progress co-production across the country. It is time to be courageous!

On 18 July the Government launched the Next Steps Accommodation Programme, making available £105 million for ‘interim accommodation and support' and £161 million of first wave funding to provide ‘3,300 additional supported homes this year for those currently housed in emergency accommodation.’

This £161 million aims 'to deliver long-term, national assets in the form of supported move-on homes,' with a 'particular focus on the successful resettlement and recovery of those who have a long and/or repeat history of rough sleeping.’ Short-term and interim accommodation must be 'safe,' and 'suitable for those housed,' and long-term accommodation 'should look to meet aspirations of self-contained accommodation and options to allow pets in the premises etc (our emphasis).'

Voices, Choices and Aspirations

“We must also use this opportunity to take steps to end rough sleeping for good.”

(Next Steps Accommodation Programme Guidance)

Our National Advisory Panel have been continually making the call that to end rough sleeping, we must give people a voice, a choice and meet their aspirations.

This means that practices must be adapted to ensure that people are empowered to be equal partners in decisions made about our lives. People must be offered a home, which is safe, secure and allows for physical and emotional well-being. Support should focus on our hopes and aspirations, and the skills and talents that we all possess.

There are encouraging statements within the Next Steps Accommodation Programme guidance that these ambitions are shared by the programme. We have been particularly concerned over the last few months that interim accommodation solutions have not been safe, and that ambitions of self contained homes have not been met, so accountability relating to these is positive.

Where the programme really offers the potential to end rough sleeping is it's commitment throughout to co-production, critically involving 'service users.'

“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)

We are confident that if co-production is done well, then local authorities will see a huge increase in impact in their efforts. The benefits cannot be understated; co-production can share accountability and provide ownership amongst those involved, draws on the wisdom and creativity needed to tackle long-standing issues, and fundamentally gives people involved a sense of purpose and belonging.

There are countless examples for local authorities to draw on. The Luton Homelessness Partnership brings together all stakeholders, including those with lived experience, to tackle homelessness in Luton. In Blackpool, the Lived Experience Team are working with organisations across Blackpool to ensure that their services reach people experiencing multiple disadvantage, bringing positive changes to the working practices of the DWP, probation and more. Westminster City Council’s Rough Sleeping Team regularly work with a group of people with lived experience of rough sleeping when making their commissioning decisions.

Not just a tick-box exercise

In bidding for funding, local authorities must provide 'evidence of collaboration and partnership working:  Whole-system coproduction of the proposal including the on-going support.'

It will therefore be crucial that local authorities reflect critically on their co-production, and this should not be limited to any single specific question. Throughout the bid there are countless opportunities to promote the work being done to get people involved in co-production. Co-production will increase impact, and can contribute to delivering a sustained reduction in rough sleeping. Co-production brings wisdom so that the evidence of local need is understood. And co-production can lead to wider transformative change, learning, and service improvement. Local authorities must not just tick the box, but get on it and shout!

A journey not a destination

We know that for many embarking on co-production will be from a standing start, and this can cause great fear. And with a deadline of Thursday 20 August, where should organisations start?

Being gripped by these fears may mean that co-production doesn't get off the ground. But for us, co-production is a continual process, a journey, and we can all make steps along this journey right now. So for those who are fearful, here's three quick ideas to support co-production in your bid, and ensure people experiencing disadvantage are involved:

Make sure people receive appropriate incentives to work together. This can be funding travel, food, and contributions for their time. But crucially, this should be offering purpose, a sense of belonging, and a say in important decisions about our lives.
Listen to people. We all have hopes and aspirations. So let people be creative.Do not fear different voices but be honest and draw on the expertise of everyone to make sure you get sustainable solutions.

Provide feedback. Make sure everyone see the final bid. And make sure that people are informed and thanked about their work and the contributions it has made. This should be the start of a positive journey, which will make a huge difference to lives and the local community.
Organisations may still hold a fear of getting it wrong, of making a mistake which is detrimental to the experiences of those that should be benefiting.

But we must be courageous. We all get it wrong at times. Expert Link has made many mistakes and has learnt many, many lessons. And one thing we have learnt, from the wisdom of our community, is that when we look past all the definitions and ladders and standards, there are three principles that if we reflect on when doing co-production, we will be on the right journey. We invite anyone to consider them.

Principle 1: No one person owns the truth. The wisdom and power should reside in the collective.
Principle 2: All stakeholders are afforded every opportunity to sit at the table equitably
Principle 3: We focus on the group purpose using a strengths-based approach

The Next Steps Accommodation Programme provides a fantastic opportunity for local authorities to make a real impact in ending rough sleeping. Let's all take the next step.