In light of the Spending Review 2010 there has been an increasing amount of public discussion regarding and scrutiny of public sector assets and the provision of public sector services. The recent consultation regarding forestry is a clear example of how some public assets provoke strong views.

As we all know, public bodies are under pressure to deliver cost savings. Similarly, corporates remain keen to deliver services to public sector clients and to work to develop assets with public sector stakeholders. Local authorities remain significant landowners. One way in which public bodies may continue to provide public services in the face of public sector cuts is through joint ventures with corporates, third sector organisations and through the use of mutual structures.

The Wedlake Bell team has been leading public debate in this area. We have been working closely with Local Partnerships (itself a public sector joint venture between Local Government Association and HM Treasury) to identify and deliver better ways for the public sector to engage with and contract with corporates.

In addition, one of our partner’s, Edward Craft, has contributed a chapter to the leading publication in the area “Local Authority Companies and Partnerships” (publisher: Hann Barton Publishing), writing on the “Establishment of a Joint Venture: a Route Map and Analysis of Structures. Edward has focussed on the various ways in which transactions may be structured between corporates and public sector bodies and how these structures can be used to deliver significant value for both. In an environment where senior debt remains constrained, it is important for all to explore alternative strategies, including collaborations such as joint ventures to ensure that projects may continue to be delivered. For more information go to www.lacaponline.com.