Supported Business update (December 2021)

Supported Business update (December 2021)

Since the summer the Supported Business Steering Group (SBSG) has continued dialogue with DWP representing the interests of Supported Businesses. 


Chloe Smith – New Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work

In September Chloe Smith MP for Norwich North took over from Justin Tomlinson as the Minister responsible for disability issues including Supported Businesses. The SBSG has reached out to the Minister and believes there remains a commitment to make available new and more appropriate funding mechanisms for individuals employed within Supported Businesses. The SBSG will prioritise building a constructive relationship with the Minister to ensure the interests of Supported Businesses and their employees are recognised and protected.


The Extension to TESG

Since the summer, the SBSG has been is dialogue with DWP on the need for a further extension of TESG beyond March 2022. We have been reassured by DWP that the funding for this had been included in the November 2021 spending review. As has been the case in previous years formal confirmation was not expected until DWP had completed their ‘internal allocation’ process.  The SBSG has recently learnt that this year this process will not be completed until at earliest mid-February 2022. The SBSG continues to be assured that funding ‘should’ be available but recognises the difficultly this uncertainty causes SBs. We have made strong representation to DWP to bring an early resolution to this issue so that SBs can prepare for the next financial year. The SBSG has written to the Minister seeking her support on this matter.  


Proof of Concept (PoC)

The work on what follows TESG continues to be delayed as funding for the PoC requires confirmation within the ‘internal allocation’ process of the Spending Review. Again, DWP have reassured SBSG that they do not believe there will be an issue. The SBSG ‘PoC Working Group’ has a range of meetings scheduled with DWP from early in Jan 2022. It is likely that an additional and wider ‘Working Group’ will be considered by DWP to ensure that views of wider stake holders are gained. However, the SBSG are hopeful that its breath of membership will satisfy DWP in this respect.

Any employer wishing to be considered for inclusion in the PoC should make this known directly to DWP or via who will pass on the information.

It is likely that the PoC will commence in March/April 2022. The SBSG will continue to provide regular updates on the details as they emerge.


Inflationary pressures

A number of SBs have raised the issue of growing inflationary pressures. Increases to National Minimum Wage and knock-on effects will add significantly to general inflation and supply and demand pressures. The SBSG have made representations to DWP and written to the Minister seeking recognition of these pressures when setting TESG levels for future extensions.

Any SB that is able to share particular issues in this regard are advised to let DWP know, again this can be facilitated through


BASE conference – Supported Business Workshop

The Supported Business and Social Enterprise ‘what next’ workshop was well attended. Of most interest was information from Debbie Bradford and Ian Milton, Access to Work regarding a new stream of support funding, which is called Access to Work Plus. This is in part an employer grant and also funding for support, including Job Coaching. There is a Proof of Concept and they asked the audience to put themselves forward if interested in taking part. For anyone interested, please contact direct.

Questions to AtW included:

Q: When will electronic claim system be in place?

A: We were told a portal is being built, however, no timeline at present. 

Q: Appointees and the challenge of gaining signatures from them. 

A: It was noted that the portal would offer a part solution to this problem. 

Q: Issues around getting 3 quotes for Job Coaching, taxis’ etc. Could Access to Work have standard rates which would make it easier to get applications through quickly?

A: Access to Work will take that away for review

Q: How does accreditation work for Access to Work Plus?

A: Debbie and Ian referenced SEDEM for Independent Supported Businesses, Social Enterprises and Supportive Employers and LADEM for Local Authorities as meeting the required criteria. Being a Disability Confident Employer will be part of the requirement. 


Promotional information

The latest promotional information on Supported Businesses have recently been printed and hard copies will be distributed to SBs on BASE’s distribution list. 

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.

Through the efforts of Alistair Kerr, Chair of BASE Scotland network a great deal of progress has been made in Scotland where four framework agreements with Scottish Government Procurement Directorate and another two Supported Business Frameworks with Scotland Excel and NHS National Procurement are now in place covering furniture, document management, textiles and signage. The First Minister and Scottish Government co-founded with BASE Scotland a Supported Business Advisory Group chaired by Fergus Ewing MSP, which is still in operation today

In England, following support from the Minister, SBSG is in contact with the Crown Commercial Services to explore how best to support SBs within public procurement processes.


The ongoing work of the SBSG

The work of the SBSG in 2020/21 has been funded through contributions from a small number of Supported Businesses supplemented by grants from BASE, the Scottish and Welsh Governments.

The SBSG is hopeful that 2022/23 will conclude its work on securing a new funding mechanism for Supported Businesses. It will however be a critical year. It is unlikely that Government grants will be available for next financial year.  To continue with the current level of activity in 2022/23, the SBSG need to secure £29,000.  The SBSG recognises the ongoing financial strain on SBs. However, we will need to approach all Supported Businesses requesting a financial investment for the critical and hopefully final stages of its work. Please make every effort to support the ongoing work of the SBSG in securing long term funding for Supported Businesses and your employees.  

As always, please inform the SBSG of any concerns or issues that you are unable to resolve with DWP and we will attempt to assist.  


Martin Davies

Chair Supported Business Steering Group

December 2021