Supported Business

Supported Business

Supported Business Definition

A Supported Business is an organisation or ‘business unit’ whose primary objective and product is the facilitation of employment for disabled people as defined within the Equality Act 2010.  As an Exemplar Employer a Supported Business provides a specialist supportive environment that goes well beyond reasonable adjustment or adjustment covered by standard Access to Work. A Supported Business enables people to work, allowing for their productive capacity, thus increasing inclusion, independence and wellbeing. Where appropriate for the individual, support is provided to progress to external employment.

There are 50 Supported Businesses (summer 2023), employing 1200 disabled people

Supported Businesses and BASE

Mel Walls is the National Lead for Supported Business BASE members and represents them on the BASE NEC.  Mel provides a link to the Supported Business Steering Group, which acts as a voice for Supported Businesses across the UK. Mel has been heavily involved in the development of Access to Work Plus, the successor funding to TESG (Transition Employer Support Grant).  

Supported Businesses in the UK

The Supported Business Steering Group (SBSG) brings together a range of organisations to secure sustainable funding for Supported Businesses and has worked with DWP on the Access to Work Plus proof of concept, testing new funding mechanisms.  

BASE has been working with procurement officials in Scotland and Wales to create framework agreements. Contracting authorities can reserve a lot or category within a framework for supported factories and businesses to compete for.

Where permitted, contracting authorities can also utilise existing framework agreements that use supported factories or businesses. England is still without any type of procurement framework, and BASE are keen to address this inadequacy and would welcome the support from any of our English Supported Businesses, who agree that this is a strong way forward.

A number of our members manage supported businesses. This page offers an update on the activity that BASE engages in to promote their work. 

Each Supported Business has an allocated volume of Transition Employer Support Grant (TESG) places, which receive funding of £5,505 per place, per year (April 2023 onwards). 

Moving forward, Access to Work Plus is expected to replace TESG.

Supported Business in Scotland 

A great deal of progress has been made since the launch of the Supported Business Frameworks in Scotland in 2012.  The original Frameworks which consisted of four framework agreements which were developed, covering furniture, document management, textiles and signage. The Frameworks were underpinned by the Scottish Government Supported Business Advisory Group. The successor to the Supported Business Frameworks has been launched by Scottish Government with Scottish Procurement, who have created a Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS) for Requirements Reserved for Supported Businesses. This will continue to provide the Scottish public sector and third sector bodies with a quick route to market for a range of goods and services provided by Supported Businesses. To access Public Contracts Scotland ‘Requirements Reserved for Supported Businesses Dynamic Purchasing System’ information, please use the following hyperlink:

The key aim of the Requirements Reserved for Supported Businesses DPS is to provide Scottish Public Sector and Third Sector Bodies (Framework Public Bodies) with a clear path for the purchase of goods and services from Supported Businesses and in doing so, support the integration of disabled and disadvantaged citizens into the mainstream workforce. In addition, the Scottish Governments recently published its 2023  to 2028 Public Procurement Strategy, which includes stated policy intents which shine a bright spotlight on SME’s, Third Sector and Supported Businesses. All outputs from the three named policy intents are directly linked to all Heads of Public Procurement Annual Procurement Reporting around the £13 billion annual spend.

Supported Business in Wales 

Things have been a bit hit and miss in Wales. There are no current framework agreements in place but there's a lot of support from officials within Welsh Government Procurement teams.

Supported Businesses featured highly in the Welsh Government's Framework for Action on Independent Living .  The Welsh Government has issued new guidance on reserved contracts in March 2021 and these are now starting to be utilised more by procurement teams with examples including the musical instrument pBuzz in 2022 and the current tender (summer 2023) for the Welsh Baby Bundles.

Latest news

If you're looking for the latest information on Supported Businesses please log in to the BASE Membership portal and visit the Supported Business Group.