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Trowers & Hamlins advises on creation of pioneering London youth services mutual

Trowers & Hamlins advises on creation of pioneering London youth services mutual

Trowers & Hamlins has advised the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea’s nationally respected youth services department on becoming an independent public service mutual (PSM).

Epic CIC, as the new organisation will be known, is the first youth services department in the UK to "spin out" from local authority control.  From 1 January 2014 the service became a PSM with its 142 staff owning shares in the company and having a say in its management.  Its new mutual status will also enable Epic CIC to market itself to other local authorities and other organisations.  

Through the sponsorship of the Cabinet Office's Mutual Programme, Trowers & Hamlins advised the PSM on all aspects of its spin out from the Royal Borough, including the design of the PSM’s innovative governance arrangements, complex pensions issues concerning the staff who will deliver the PSM’s services, as well as negotiation of a five-year contract under which the PSM will continue to provide the Royal Borough with first-class services. 

Epic CIC currently operates four youth centres and is working out of several sites run by the voluntary sector, as well as directly with the community.  Amongst other roles, it provides guidance and support for 13 to 19-year-olds and particularly those in difficulty.  That guidance and support takes many forms, including intensive one-to-one work, arts, sport, health, education and experiencing the great outdoors. 

Partner Rob Beiley, who led the Trowers & Hamlins team advising the PSM, commented:  “Councils up and down the country continue to face very difficult decisions when it comes to maintaining the best possible public services against a backdrop of reduced public expenditure.  Public service mutuals offer councils a real alternative to the traditional models of in-house or outsourced delivery, and Epic CIC is a truly inspiring model for the delivery of public services."

Brendan O’Keefe, Epic CIC's managing director, added:  “It’s been a long journey to get to this point and we have taken the time to ensure that everything is in place so we can successfully stand on our own two feet from day one.  We are grateful to Trowers & Hamlins for their support.  They proved to be an excellent partner in guiding us through the mutualisation.  We have benefited enormously from their expertise and experience of this process.

“Our staff are very excited about what 2014 will bring and we look forward to continuing to deliver exceptional youth services with the support of the Royal Borough.”

Last year, Trowers & Hamlins advised the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham, in partnership with the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster City Council, on the creation of another public service mutual, known as 3BM, for school support services to serve the three boroughs.  In 2012, the firm acted as the sole legal adviser to Rochdale Boroughwide Housing (RBH) and created the country's first tenant and employee co-operatively owned housing mutual which will be responsible for 13,700 homes. Trowers & Hamlins has been active in establishing and advising mutuals and social enterprises since the 1980s.