In-house Public Sector Team of the Year

Department for Business Innovation and Skills

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has scooped the award for its outstanding work on the British Business Bank.

The team devised an entirely new structure for the bank, which was hailed by Business Minister Matthew Hancock as “a landmark in British banking history”. Small businesses will now benefit from £10bn of funding which will be unlocked through the creation of the new economic bank.

Part of the challenge was persuading ministers, officials and regulators that the new structure would work. This is also the first bank of its kind to be approved by the European Commission under EU state aid rules. Out of the box thinking was crucial to the banks development. Government control of the funds is ensured as the bank is owned by a parent PLC, which the Secretary of Stake holds a 100 per cent stake.

When needed the team pulled in external advisors but the BIS legal team remained in overall control to make sure the project ran cost effectively. As a result BIS Legal has provided a template for other European countries to adapt. The model developed by the team is currently being considered by The Netherlands for its own institution.

Runner up
  • The Pension Protection Fund

The Pension Protection Fund (PPF) comes in second for the work it does to raise over £600m per year for those who lose their pension when their employers enter into insolvency.

After developing the world’s first risk based levy for pension schemes the firm then looked to create a model to measure insolvency risk. The team took a hands-on approach with the development of the tool and was actively involved with the creation of the policy.

This required the team to be present in meetings to identify legal and non-legal problems. This meant that solutions could be presented as soon as possible.

Third place
  • Buckinghamshire Law Plus

Buckinghamshire County Council paved the way for public sector legal teams when it became the first to be granted an alternative business structure licence. The structure means that the legal team can market its services to the local community and is expected to bring in £1.7m profit over five years as a result. As a majority shareholder the council is able to use part of these profits towards essential public services and essentially save the taxpayer money. Adopting an ABS was a pioneering move in the sector and crucial to combat a period of cuts during the economic downturn.

  • Brighton & Hove City Council In-House Legal Services
  • Eastlaw, North Norfolk District Council
  • Network Rail
  • Sandwell Legal Services
  • St John Ambulance