Setting up a social enterprise or mutual to run public services can be challenging. We have been advising on ‘spinning out’ from the public sector for many years – whether from the NHS, local government or central government – and give clear, definitive advice that makes the process as straightforward as possible.

We are closely involved with government developments in this area: we have been consulted by the Department of Health and the Mutualisation Taskforce and were mentors on the Cabinet Office Mutual Pathfinder programme. We have also pioneered innovative approaches and new legal forms, including the Community Interest Company and Charitable Incorporated Organisations.

As the leading charity law firm in the UK we have a unique combination of expertise in commercial and social enterprise law, so our clients benefit from practical, commercial advice based on a deep understanding of the values of mutuals, social enterprises and public bodies.


We have advised many education providers on establishment as mutuals and social enterprises.

Education Providers >


We also work extensively with our Health team to advise on the establishment of mutuals in the sector.

Health Mutuals >

Central government services

We have advised on a number of high-profile central government reorganisations, including:

  • the conversion of the British Waterways Board into a charitable company limited by guarantee, to create the UK's 13th largest charity by income;
  • the reorganisation of the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA) as a fully independent charity;
  • the redesignation of the Design Council as a fully independent charity;
  • contesting the Alcohol Education & Research Council’s status as an Arm's Length Body and acting on its conversion into a charitable company;
  • the establishment of a social enterprise for Consumer Focus.

Local government services

We have advised a number of local authorities on the establishment of mutuals, social enterprises and charities to deliver public services, including:

  • Explore York – a spin out of library and archives from York City Council
  • Achieving for Children CIC – a spin out of children’s services from Kingston and Richmond Councils
  • Buckinghamshire Learning Trust – a spin out of school support services;
  • Aspire – a spin out of adult and community learning services from West Sussex;
  • Thurrock Lifestyle Solutions – a spin out of adult social care services from Thurrock;
  • Chiltern Rangers CIC – a spin out of community woodland service from Wycombe District Council;
  • Realise Futures – a spin out of adult and community learning services from Suffolk County Council;
  • Accession Social Enterprise CIC – a spin out of rehabilitation services from Ealing Council and West London Mental Health Trust
  • Everybody for Sport & Recreation – a transfer out of leisure services from Cheshire East Council;
  • South West Heritage Trust – a spin out of heritage and archive services from Devon and Somerset and Devon County Council into South West Heritage Trust

Realise Futures case study >

Probation Services

We worked with the Probation Association prior to Transforming Rehabilitation and have worked with Leicestershire & Rutland Probation Trust and Innovation Wessex– a probation mutual based in Leicestershire. We have also provided training to a number of probation mutuals as part of the Cabinet Office Going for Growth programme.

Music Services

Since the Department for Education announced the reorganisation of music services in 2011, we have advised on the establishment of several independent music education hubs including the setting up of Northamptonshire Music and Performing Arts Trust, Sutton Music Service and Sefton Music Service.

How we help

We cover the range of matters that you are likely to encounter, and include:

  • Establishment and registration of the right legal entity
  • Ownership structures and capital investment
  • Commissioning, procurement and state aid
  • VAT and tax advice
  • Transfer of assets and liabilities
  • Employment (including pensions and TUPE)
  • Transfer of services, from libraries to recycling, council support services to nurseries, podiatry to HIV services

Beyond legal advice, our Impact and Advisory team brings financial, research service design, market analysis and strategic expertise. Their advisory services and expertise in impact measurement, outcomes-based planning and strategy results in an holistic, integrated offering that works with you to develop evidence-based, outcomes-focused solutions.


The Art of the Possible in Public Procurement

This report argues that procurement regulations provide commissioning authorities with a great deal of flexibility to achieve the outcomes they seek for their communities. It sets out in plain English some of the flexibilities available to commissioners, how to unlock them and some of the practical things that can be achieved within the scope of the law.




Comprehensive checklists, drafted in partnership with PLC.

(Reproduced from PLC Public Sector with the permission of the publishers. For further information visit


Contact the Public Services & Mutuals team >

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