Supported Business update (July 2021)

Supported Business update (July 2021)

As lockdown restrictions have been easing over late spring and early summer the Supported Business Steering Group (SBSG) has been in dialogue with DWP and Ministers on four main issues.


Supporting people back to work

The extension of TESG to March 2022 has allowed Supported Businesses to concentrate on returning employees to work wherever possible. The Flexible Furlough arrangements continue to assist in this process, and most Supported Businesses have been successful in bringing back most employees. However, for a number of Supported Businesses the commercial environment and the support needs of some employees continue to make this very difficult. 

The SBSG has worked with DWP to agree additional flexibilities within the TESG process to support disabled employees of Supported Businesses who become at risk of redundancy during these challenging and changing times. Details of this have been distributed to Supported Businesses by DWP. 

The SBSG will continue a dialogue with DWP to try and ensure that a flexible and supportive approach is taken to Supported Businesses by the Government as we attempt to establish a new ‘norm’.


Proof of Concept (PoC)

The work on what follows TESG has been significantly delayed due to the pandemic. However, the increasing challenges faced by many disabled people in gaining and retaining employment has been recognised by the Government. This has resulted in a review of what DWP aspired to for the successor arrangement to TESG. Although the SBSG are unable to currently share details, we are able to say that the potential for the new arrangements have grown significantly. The SBSG is hopeful that DWP will be in a position to share their plans for the Proof of Concept within the next few weeks. The SBSG will update Supported Businesses as soon as we are able.


Providing medium term certainty for Supported Businesses

The SBSG are very aware that the ongoing delays to the PoC brings with it uncertainty for Supported Businesses in regard to future funding. We have been discussing with DWP and lobbying Ministers to provide some certainty to Supported Businesses beyond the 31st March 2022 when the current TESG extension ends. During these uncertain times it is important that Supported Businesses are able to business plan as accurately as possible to ensure recovery, protect of jobs and grow. Taking away the uncertainty of TESG funding for the medium term would greatly assist this process. 

The SBSG are hopeful that DWP will be communicating to Supported Businesses their plans on this issue shortly.


Promotional information

During our interaction with Justin Tomlinson, Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work, he has encouraged the development of a ‘document/ resource’ that can be used by himself and others to promote the work of Supported Businesses to public procurement bodies. With the support of Britain’s Bravest Manufacturer (RBLi) we are at final draft stage for this piece of work. Many thanks to BBM. We are currently in communication with Cabinet office and the Minister’s Office to finalise the work and agree a plan to distribute and use the resource. Digital version’s (plus one printed version) will be available to each SB over the coming weeks.


The ongoing work of the SBSG

As you will be aware the work of the SBSG is facilitated by the time and resources of its member together with financial donations (mostly from the same members). For 2021/22 the SBSG has been successful in gaining a small grant from The Welsh Government for our work. We are also hopeful that The Sottish Government will confirm a similar approach in the near future. As well as supporting the work of the SBSG these grants will allow the SBSG to continue to recognise and respond to the differing and wider approaches to employment and disability in these parts of the UK.  

The SBSG continues to need addition funding for the second half of this financial year and once again we ask that all Supported Businesses consider identifying a budget to ensure that the work of the SBSG continues. The SBSG will be writing to all Supported Businesses in September to seek a contribution for the rest of the year. It would be good if we could broaden the involvement to those Supported Businesses who have not been able to invest to date, but continue to benefit from the work of the group.

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

July 2021