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Brilliant advice, where and when you need it

Our dedicated public sector Legal and Governance services give you access to all the specialist expertise you need to smoothly run your legal and governance activities. Lexcel-accredited for excellence in practice management, client care and quality of service; our well-established ways of working and focus on technology can enhance your work, streamlining decision-making.

This is in no small part due to the wealth and variety of experience at one source. As one of the UK’s leading public sector shared service arrangements, we aren’t just about Legal and Governance: we also work alongside our colleagues in one source Asset Management, Finance, HR and OD, Payroll, ICT, Enforcement and Health & Safety services. All giving us a deep understanding of the complex legal framework and practical issues behind everything you do.

Shared services are most often known for volume legal and electoral processes. However, we actually offer a vast range of specialist services, for example helping exchequer teams escalate debt collections, supporting asset management, and advising on procurement contracts. Our respected advisers and advocates can also help with governance, employment, procurement, property, planning and regeneration as well as education or social care matters.

From the process-driven public sector operations we provide to Newham and Havering, to more informal consultancy for East Herts, Stevenage and Waltham Forest Councils; 90%+ of our customer ratings are good or excellent. We’re here to help you at every stage of any legal or governance process. So you can better service your employees, communities, residents and customers.

  • Democratic and Member Service

    We’ve a long-standing reputation for helping enhance local government decision-making. Working in partnership with your members and senior managers, we improve governance so you can take effective decisions in an open and transparent way.

    Our Head of Democratic Services is also a deputy monitoring officer who, along with the rest of the team, provides procedural advice and guidance on constitutional or statutory matters, whilst managing operational matters from report clearance to minute publication.

  • Procurement, Contracts and Commercial law

    Procurement has always been a complex area for public sector bodies – and will likely become even more so as we exit the EU and develop our own statutory regime. As an in-house advisor to two busy authorities with diverse portfolio of services and companies, we understand your needs and can provide tailored solutions to meet your commercial needs. We work closely with our procurement colleagues to ensure the smooth handling of processes end-to-end.

  • Regeneration, Planning and Property

    It’s common knowledge that London is moving East. Our specialist Property, Planning and Regeneration lawyers have been at the heart of Newham’s and Havering’s post-Olympic housing and commercial expansion. Unrivalled in the UK, it includes the Newham Mayor’s Affordable Housing Programme (on track to deliver 1,000+ social housing units) and Havering’s developments in Beam Park and beyond.

    We’re also uniquely placed to work with our one source Asset Management colleagues to advise on virtually all commercial and residential matters: from the complete reimagining of town centres, to small projects with unique legal aspects, and even sales of individual council houses.

  • Litigation

    Your legal duty to your community is paramount – and rarely affects lives so deeply as with housing, civil and employment actions and regulations. With a range of front-line and back office legal services, we can ensure you always have best practices in place, and can smoothly adjust processes as the law evolves. We also represent your interests, for example we’ve recently obtained a high-value settlement from RBS for Newham over their management of LOBO loans.

  • Electoral Services

    As well as handling more unique or individual cases; our Electoral Services team have developed a shared service for Newham and Havering Councils.

    After successfully delivering five elections in two years – for over 600,000 people – we have a deep understanding of the practicalities of running such community-wide operations, so can save you time and money. We can also add value throughout the election cycle: we are currently implementing Boundary Reviews in Newham and Havering. The Boundary Commission accepted the vast majority of our proposals on new wards and our suggestion to increase the number of councillors.

  • Planning and Development

    Be it major regeneration projects, planning policy, development controls, highways, parking, CPOs, planning enforcement or litigation; our experience and knowledge can be a valuable asset to helping you reach your goals. Newham, in particular, has some of the UK’s most ambitious renewal projects in motion, with specialists from every discipline relying on our legal teams for support.

  • Contracts, Procurement and Pensions

    Whether you deal with high-value contracts regularly or need help with a specific procurement challenge, our expert lawyers can help with advice, assessments, negotiations and legal processes – ensuring you meet all the relevant governmental or industry regulations.

    We can also handle the legal work relating to your pension schemes – as well as more usual management duties – and we also regularly take on other company matters such as share management.

  • Enforcement

    We provide Local Government Officers to a wide range of customers. And together with our enforcement experts, our legal teams deliver every aspect of licensing and regulatory advice and representation, as well as support throughout criminal litigation – expertly handling initial prosecutions as well as any challenges or appeals.

  • Children and Education

    We provide an independent, professional service for administering school admission appeals and independent review panels in line with the latest codes and guidance. Our deeply experienced team currently manage appeals and exclusion review hearings for Havering’s community schools, as well as a number of academies and voluntary aided schools elsewhere.

Case studies

With experience across so many areas, fuelled by the wider one source portfolio, our legal experts have been involved in some truly groundbreaking projects and cases. Some recent highlights below.

Please do get in touch if you’d like to discuss any particular project or service – every public sector challenge is unique and calls for an equally unique solution.

Apprenticeships Talent Hub

Our Talent Hub helps Havering and Newham councils maximise the Apprenticeships Levy by identifying skills gaps, improving diversity and creating more effective programmes.

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Case Study
Apprenticeships Talent Hub

Our Talent Hub helps Havering and Newham councils maximise the Apprenticeships Levy by identifying skills gaps, improving diversity and creating more effective programmes.

Any organisation whose annual salary bill tops £3m has to pay the 0.5% Apprenticeships Levy. The money is then topped up by government and put into a fund for employers to invest in apprentices’ training over the next 24 months.

Any funds that aren’t spent over those two years are reclaimed by HMRC. So it’s vital that Havering and Newham Councils get the most for the £1m+ they put in their funds each year. Our solution? A Talent Hub that maximises their apprenticeship schemes’ reach and impact.

A dedicated central team

In practice, the team behind the Talent Hub work with line managers and training providers to create programmes that fill skills gaps at each Council – not just for more junior roles, but higher and degree-level apprenticeships.

They make sure the door’s open to everyone – internal and external applicants from all backgrounds, including care leavers and young people living in poverty. And finally, they oversee the programme, ensuring the apprentices get the high-quality learning to excel.

A conveyor belt of success stories

The first Talent Hub-led programmes recruited five degree-level Social Workers for Havering and Newham. They’re all now in hard-to-fill permanent roles, and studying towards their Level 6 Social Worker Apprenticeship.

More recently, the team helped four people already at Havering start Building Control degree apprenticeships, and a further five people – two existing and three new hires – join the Level 7 Chartered Town Planner Apprenticeship, a particularly tough area to recruit for. And in terms of softer skills, six Newham managers are taking the Emerging Leaders programme run by SOLACE – experts in public sector senior leadership.

Put together, the future’s looking very bright for Newham and Havering’s apprenticeships. The Talent Hub is a unique solution that’s making great strides in not only ensuring the Levy is good value for money for both Councils – but delivering the right people, with the right skills.

Helping Newham use wellbeing to fight COVID

The once-in-a-generation challenge of COVID-19 has shone a light on the importance of employee wellbeing. Our measures ensured everyone at Newham had the support they needed and deserved.

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Case Study
Helping Newham use wellbeing to fight COVID

The once-in-a-generation challenge of COVID-19 has shone a light on the importance of employee wellbeing. Our measures ensured everyone at Newham had the support they needed and deserved.

Our holistic wellbeing programme had been a core part of our portfolio of services for a few years. As well as our own initiatives, it was built on best practices developed by organisations as diverse as: NHS and Public Health organisations, Deloitte and our own Health Champions Network.

Importantly, we looked at the issue from every angle – we built awareness, turned understanding into action, and provided support and flexibility. We laid the path for a wellbeing journey.

COVID-19

As the pandemic evolved, we didn’t need to read the endless newspaper articles to know the people in our care would likely need the programme in greater numbers. We saw how stressful it was navigating through such uncertain times: fatigue, fear, the repetitiveness of Zoom call after Zoom call, and the gap between logging off and logging on feeling shorter by the day.

So, rather than reacting as events progressed, we set about learning how we could help Newham’s people through the crisis.

Responding at speed

Our first act was to set up a Wellbeing Subgroup of our most respected professionals. They looked at Newham’s wellbeing services, and what people would need during the pandemic – and highlighted the gaps.

Throughout, the team was mindful of the practicalities. Was a solution worthwhile? Is it being delivered in the right from? Would it be useful for people working from home, on critical frontline services, continuing in their normal place of work and those needing to shield?

A comprehensive approach

Naturally, mental health support was a key priority. We created the Mental Health First Aiders (MHFA) support network, made up of employees who could be ‘booked’ for 30-minute private chats. We also added extra layers to the existing Employee Assistance Programme, including Group Resilience – helping entire families – and Bereavement Support.

All the details were on the intranet, and we drip fed communications, so everyone knew there was help if they needed it.

As time went on, specific services got in touch for advice. One conversation led to our ‘Wellbeing Conversations – A conversation worth having’ training module for Newham’s Children Social Work managers.

And taking a step further, we went on to work with CMT and psychologist and restorative wellbeing specialists to create our ‘Time to Talk’ initiative, where internal volunteers support colleagues by making the time to sit down with them and have honest wellbeing conversations.

Elsewhere, we delivered targeted sessions for Hub Managers feeling the strain of having such a responsibility for their community. We created and ran wellbeing other audience-specific workshops in person and over Zoom – sometimes for hundreds of people at a time, at other times for small leadership teams.

Keeping things normal

The annual staff survey in June 2020 was the perfect opportunity for us to understand how people were coping, what support was working, and what services were still perhaps missing.

One thing became abundantly clear: people needed hope. Everyone took great pride in supporting councils, communities and residents. But they needed to know there was a long-term plan, and that there were still things to celebrate.

This tied in well with our work on the Council’s staff benefits site, which also launched that June. While it was held virtually, Newham’s staff awards were also a roaring success. And to prove the new normal was a lot like the old normal, we brought to life an initiative we floated in 2019 – a cross-Council Wellbeing Week, with events ranging from Dealing with Stress and Anxiety in Difficult Times, to Let’s Talk About Menopause.

Building wellbeing that lasts

One of the silver linings of the pandemic is that organisations with innovative and creative HR &OD teams have created stronger bonds with their people.

With a detailed and targeted approach to wellbeing, we ramped up Newham’s wellbeing strategy to deliver good value, cost-effective initiatives in trying circumstances. And these initiatives are going further than simply solving practical symptoms of any issues.

They’re giving people the opportunity to have real conversations about topics that used to be taboo, such as mental health. They’re helping us connect virtually and metaphorically more than ever. And they’re strengthening people’s resilience and agility – to everyone’s benefit.

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We have some of the most innovative and respected public sector shared services in the UK.

Your challenges are unique – but our experience makes us the perfect people to find the perfect solution. What’s more: we only work with the public sector. We share your passion for the communities you serve.