We believe that co-production is an essential way of tackling many (but not all) of the most pressing social challenges facing UK public services. Changing demographics, increased demand, spiralling costs coupled with financial constraints – all place tremendous pressure on already strained systems. Co-production offers us a way to overcome these challenges.

In the past few years we have developed, and seen others develop, powerful innovations that are tackling these challenges, delivering much better outcomes, often for significantly less money. These innovations have a common theme, whether in health, social care, crime, early years or education. They have all recognised the communities they serve as assets, treating them as partners in service design and delivery. This is co-production in action.

Co-production represents a fundamental shift in the way we view the role of service users. Instead of being passive recipients of care they are recognised as equal partners, with a unique contribution to make to the design and delivery of services. Their skills and expertise are harnessed so that they take more control over their own health as well as supporting each other to do the same. Barriers between professionals and users are broken down.

There is a growing body of evidence for co-production. It demonstrates that this is an effective way to deliver better outcomes for less money. And it is a beguilingly simple idea. It may seem obvious to support people to help themselves but despite its simplicity coproduced solutions operate on the periphery. We are interested in projects and programmes that help bring co-production from the margin to the mainstream.