Back to News
A drawing of a man with two post-its next to him saying 'what does he need to know' and 'how should he find out'

Recap: Co-creating Our Payment Policy

June 4, 2021

Payment for involvement in co-production or other similar activities is complicated. There’s no getting around that; legally, practically, ethically and emotionally. But our approach to co-production is one of working in equal partnership for equal benefit, removing barriers to participation, addressing power imbalances and valuing a diversity of knowledge and experience. So we’re determined to do what we can to uphold our core values – being human, inclusive, challenging and transparent – and co-create a payment policy which works for our community.

In an ideal world, this would mean offering payment to anyone who co-produces with us, no matter their circumstances or background. But in the real world, that’s just not feasible – we would pretty soon run out of money and there would be no co-production work to pay for! So we began the process of co-producing our payment policy back in December 2020, although it had been a work in progress for a while before that too (you can remind yourself of the background here). We had a huge response to the first draft so we’ve spent the last few months working through all the feedback, getting further advice and learning from others also working in this area (e.g. NIHR).

This led us to hold two co-creation sessions in May, where we explored some of the issues highlighted in the first stage as being particularly complicated and in need of further work together.

This summary document provides more detail on the content and ideas which emerged from the sessions, so please do take a look if you’re interested (also available as a Word doc). We'll also be sharing another blog from co-producer Al, with his perspectives on the discussions.

If you just want to get the highlights, then below is a brief overview of the four main issues covered.



In the first session on 7 May we used four imaginary co-producers to help us explore how we decide who is eligible for payment for co-producing with us.

Co-producer Katherine explains more:

Payment policies are important as they provide part of knowing what to expect.  As we found out from the case study exercise, payment to individuals is complex and a sensitive topic.
The people in the case studies were all in different situations so we were able to explore many issues in depth.  It was thought provoking to hear what various members of our group had to say with their analysis of who should get paid. The atmosphere in the breakout rooms was relaxed and chatty and we all worked and contributed equally in the discussions. Our breakout room participants were very thoughtful, and people were able to express their thought openly
My general reflections on the issues of payment in the Coproduction Collective is it needs to be done case by case where you fully understand the needs of people.

As Katherine suggests, this was one of the main messages –balancing the need for a policy with a flexible and person centred approach, recognising how much we all benefit from a community made up of co-producers with different circumstances, backgrounds and experiences.

There were many nuances and not everyone fully agreed, but ultimately, we developed the following statements to summarise the general consensus around eligibility:

  • We do not offer payment if you are co-producing with us as part of your paid role.
  • We do offer payment if you are co-producing with us from a personal basis or in your own time, and it’s up to you if you choose to accept it.
  • We can explore this with you on an individual basis, recognising it may change over time – and we won’t go into personal detail about your circumstances.


Alternatives to financial payment

A second issue we explored was what we could offer in addition to or instead of financial reward as part of a co-producer ‘package’ Whilst some people cannot be paid due to their benefit requirements or legal status, and others choose not to accept payment for their work with us, the principle of reciprocity isn’t just about money. When sharing why they co-produced, those in the session listed multiple aspects they valued which didn’t include financial reward, just as a job often provides more than just a salary.

Peer support, access to training and further opportunities, and different forms of formal and informal recognition, all emerged as ideas we could develop further as part of Co-Production Collective community membership.


A sketch note of Ali's reflections on the session, with lots of writing and drawing exploring the ideas discussed in this blog.
Co-producer Ali (@SpaulAli) created this beautiful SketchNote as she participated in the second session.

What counts as 'work'?

In the second session on 18 May we looked at four example Co-production Collective activities to establish principles around what counts as ‘work’. After much discussion, there was broad agreement that activities should be paid if they:

  • Require significant time and commitment
  • Make use of people’s experience and expertise
  • Involve everyone working together as one team
  • Contribute to Co-Production Collective’s development    

We agreed that activities which are more social and informal, or primarily involve Co-Production Collective staff giving information rather than everyone collaborating, do not count as work.


The payment journey

Finally, we talk imaginary first-time co-producer Shaun on a payment journey, exploring what he needs to know, how and when. The breakout groups identified similar stages which should be present on this ideal payment journey, including:

  • An introduction to Co-Production Collective in general, including our values
  • Individual conversations to explore his needs and preferences
  • Easily available and accessible information in a range of formats
  • Regular and proactive communication from the team throughout the payment process  


What next?

We’ll be feeding all of the above into the next draft of the payment policy and its implementation. We hope to have another draft ready in July, which we will make available for co-creation via a document (online or offline), before we revise it a final time. Whether or not you’ve been part of this process so far, we’d love it if you could get involved with the next stage - the more perspectives we can include, the more likely we can co-produce a policy which works for everyone.

In the meantime, please get in touch with your thoughts, feedback and ideas:



Other news you might be interested in