Supported Business Covid 19 update (20 May 2020)

Supported Business Covid 19 update (20 May 2020)

The SBSG has been in detailed discussions with DWP for the last month trying to resolve a number of significant issues that SBs and their employees are facing due to Covid 19.

We are pleased to confirm that:

  • DWP have issued a new guidance document to SBs confirming Ministerial approval has been granted for TESG to be claimed whilst an employee is at home due to Covid 19.
  • The guidance also sets out the requirements for providing evidence of the continued support provided by the SB and offers options as to how signatures can be obtained.

We also understand that:

  • Ministerial approval in principle has been gained for an extension to TESG, however this will be subject to the next ‘spending review’.

In addition to in-depth discussions with DWP, the SBSG has spent many days lobbying for these policy changes including letters to Ministers and the Secretary of State. SBSG members have used their networks and resources to raise the issues with shadow ministers and members of the ‘upper house’. It has taken considerable effort to secure these essential concessions.

SBs will note that they need to confirm that they have delivered a minimum of one-hour remote support per week per employee; and that the employee will also be required to sign this off. Whilst the SBSG recognises this will be difficult to administer, a number of SBs are already evidencing this can be achieved in most cases. DWP have confirmed that this new requirement will not be necessary for May claims, but will start in June 2020.

DWP will be holding Webinars on 27th and 28th May on these changes.

Should a SB wish to discuss how to achieve the required wet signatures they should contact the SBSG, who will put them in touch with a SB who is currently using this approach.  The SBSG advises SBs to identify those employees that will not be able to provide wet signatures and to inform DWP detailing why the suggested sign off procedures cannot be applied. It would be very helpful if the SBSG was also made aware of such cases. 

The SBSG is pleased to have secured these concessions which are equivalent to circa £600k per month for the sector. With the possibility of furloughing being in place until October this equates to over £3m. We are, however, aware that this continues to be a very testing time for most SBs. Going forward the SBSG have identified the following priorities

  • understanding the developing impacts of furlough and Job Retention Scheme on SBs, promoting a manageable transition out of furlough for SBs and their employees. 
  • taking forward operational issues as they arise, including wet signature issues
  • being ready to re-engage on EESG and PoC as and when DWP are in a position to take this forward, including the Progression Model; and analysis and scrutiny of PoC assessment results to date.
  • operating TESG within current climate – new referrals, assessment processes, ensuring consistency. 
  • retaining regular engagement and communications with DWP and SBs

We are aware how important the Government’s furlough and Job Retention Scheme continues to be for most SBs and their employees. The SBSG is also aware that it is going to be very important how we transition out of these arrangements when the time is right. The SBSG has joined with a number of national stakeholders in lobbying Government for due consideration for vulnerable employees and their employers over the coming months as we transition to the ‘new normal’. We have written to the Chancellor seeking a commitment from Government to ensure that any changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will be taken in consultation with employers of vulnerable workers and to fully consider the implications of the tapering of arrangements to ensure that employment is protected wherever possible. This has gained some traction with the media.

On 19th May the Guardian featured an article on the correspondence including a statement from Kate Bull Managing Director of Britain’s Bravest Manufacturing Company, the Supported Business element of RBLI. 

Sam Peplow CEO of Yateley Industries Supported Business was also featured on LBC News on 18th May discussing the issues faced by Supported Businesses. Sam’s interview can be found on the LBC catchup ap (Jim Diamond at about 1:30 into the show). We would like to thank Social Enterprise (SEUK )who were instrumental in gaining this coverage. We are also pleased to confirm that SEUK have become a member of the SBSG.

The SBSG will continue to raise the profile of SBs and take forward issues on their behalf. Please make us aware of any issues that are of particular concern to your SB and we will try to assist.

The cost of administering the work of the SBSG continues to need to be covered, the work over the past month has only been possible due to good will of individuals.  The SBSG will be contacting SBs direct to seek financial contributions so that the essential work can continue.