Reciprocity in the co-production of public services: the role of volunteering through community time exchange?

29 Mar 2018

Time Credits are a form of community currency based upon the reciprocal exchange of time and represent an interpretation of ‘time banking’ by a UK social enterprise, Spice. This article sets out the contribution made by research on Time Credits to the theory and practice of co-production in public services. Time Credits are intended to improve wellbeing through volunteering and ultimately increase economic participation. There is a focus on communities exhibiting high levels of deprivation within a small Cambridgeshire town (Wisbech, UK) which is geographically isolated and characterised by low-skilled, agri-food based employment opportunities that attracted high levels of inward migration from the A8 EU accession countries. In separating the rhetoric from the reality of co-production, the research aims to shed some light upon the extent to which such initiatives can realistically engender a shift towards a more reciprocal economy in the context of an ongoing programme of fiscal austerity.