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Trowers & Hamlins advises on ground-breaking schools staff mutual

Trowers & Hamlins advises on ground-breaking schools staff mutual

Leading local government law firm Trowers & Hamlins has 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 an Employee-led Mutual for School Support Services to serve the three boroughs.

The innovative model for staff mutualisation of public services was approved by the Hammersmith & Fulham Council on 4 March 2013.  Council staff in the employee-led mutual, 3BM, will join forces with private sector company Prospects Services to provide school support services, including financial management, budget planning, IT, building development projects and strategic advice to the Tri-Borough.  Prospects, itself a former public sector spin-out, is now an £80million specialist in employment, education and training. 

The mutualisation project has been supported by the Cabinet Office which designated Hammersmith & Fulham Council as a national Pathfinder in 2010 to explore new ways of delivering public services more efficiently.  3BM will provide public services at lower cost to taxpayers saving £1million over four years.

In the employee-led mutual, all 3BM staff will own shares, with Prospects owning no more than 24.9% of the company, subject to it meeting key performance targets to the satisfaction of the mutual.  It is intended that the mutual will go live on 2 April 2013.

Trowers & Hamlins provided specialist support to Hammersmith & Fulham Council throughout the creation of the mutual, including advice on procurement, governance, employment and the pensions implications of an employee mutual providing services directly to the Councils. 

Helen Randall, Head of Public Sector Commercial at Trowers & Hamlins and lead partner on the project, commented:  "We are very pleased to have worked with the boroughs on this pioneering scheme.  Mutualisation will deliver significant benefits to schools in these three boroughs, and will ensure that high quality, cost-effective services can be tailored to the unique needs of each.  Other local authorities can look to this model of employee ownership as an example of how mutualisation can be introduced successfully into public services." 

Trowers & Hamlins is also advising the Royal Borough of  Kensington and Chelsea Youth Services Mutual, a Community Interest Company due to go live later this year.  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 have been active in establishing and advising mutuals and social enterprises since the 1980s.