Dimensions is a national not for profit provider of services for people with learning disabilities, autism and complex needs. Anthony Collins Solicitors has worked with Dimensions for several years and share the same values and aspirations in relation to empowering people. This understanding and alignment of beliefs meant we were committed to the project in more than simply a professional capacity, whilst equally recognising the potential risks it exposed our client to and the need to mitigate these.

In 2015 it entered in discussions with a local authority, together with a number of other providers, around a proposed tender to provide learning disability services to adults throughout that authority’s area. The commissioner was looking for an organisation that would establish a separate not-for-profit entity to deliver its learning disability services, involving the transfer of many employees.

We have worked collaboratively to explore the options available to Dimensions—right through to the final contract dialogue. This has involved advising on all aspects, including: property, employment, pensions, contract, regulatory and governance law. In commercial terms, one of the most difficult issues has been around pension liabilities and obtaining the financial security required by the commissioner. Our lawyers have worked with the Dimensions team and the local authority to devise innovative and complex solutions.

The project has been hugely challenging, both in terms of the scope of the tendered services and in the financial impact that taking on such a broad portfolio of services could have on the client. It has required working with the commissioner and developing a partnering and flexible approach – something very much in line with the principles underlying the Care Act and our own philosophy.

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At Dimensions we have extensive experience in dealing with substantial contracts.  However, this particular tender has involved the largest and most complex contract in our history and it was clear early on that its success would only be achieved if all parties worked with a genuine commitment to positive partnership approaches.   Additionally, because the model underlying the tender  is relatively ground-breaking, it required the parties to frankly recognise  the risks involved and work collaboratively to explore  possible solutions.  The approach applied by ACS matched all of our core values, ambition, respect, courage, integrity and partnership and played a key role in reaching contract signature.
Luke Joy-Smith, Managing Director, Somerset SE (subsidiary of Dimensions UK).