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Working Paper 132: Time in Service Design: exploring the use of time credits to deliver social policies

Lee Gregory

The recent economic recession and governmental response to the crisis have created a number of problems for social policy provision in the UK. One key area concerns the delivery of public services during a time of “public sector austerity”. Over the last ten years the time banking movement has been developing across the UK. Imported from America time banking is a community currency movement based on time which seeks radically to change the way in which service users not only engage with the services they use but dramatically to change the dynamic between user and provider. This paper will outline the time bank movement and its development in the UK and how it has been associated with the notion of co-production. It then moves on to discuss practical aspects of policy implementation where time banking has played a key role, illustrating this with examples of policy in practice explored in previous and continuing research by the author. Finally consideration is given to the potential similarities of co-production with the Westminster Coalition Governments’ idea of the big society: illustrating key questions that need consideration. The paper concludes by arguing that time bank based co-production offers a tool for social policy to help deliver welfare services at a time of austerity, with potential to help re-engage and empower users of the welfare state.

Working Paper 132: Time in Service Design: exploring the use of time credits to deliver social policies, Cardiff School of Social Sciences, September(2010), ISBN 978-1-904815-95-2