Supported Business update (March 2020)

Supported Business update (March 2020)

The Supported Business Steering Group (SBSG) has continues to engage with DWP on issues related the Transitional Employer Support Grant (TESG) and the successor arrangement (currently called EESG). Although the last 3 months, since the last update, have included a General Election and the Christmas break, work has continued on both issues.


Transitional Employer Support Grant (TESG)

Supported Businesses (SB) should be aware that the AtW Work Experience mechanism can be used as an entry point to TESG. When requesting AtW Work Experience it is important that this request is directed at the AtW TESG specialist team and that it is intended to lead to employment under TESG. This should ensure a single holistic assessment and confirm if the individual requires the support of TESG.

The SBSG understand the TESG Guidance document will be revised to include this information.

It is important that SBs follow the procedure detailed in the TESG Guidance to resolve issues. The SBSG understands that the guidance is being updated to include details of a formal Complaints Procedure for service related matters. SBs are encouraged to follow this for all occasions where service issues remain unresolved. Members of the SBSG remain available to take forward unresolved issues directly with DWP and would welcome being made aware of issues as and when they arise and are resolved.

DWP have confirmed that SBs are not required to provide copies of formal employment offers for a TESG award, confirmation of the proposed start date will suffice. If this is not the case the SB should contact DWP policy as detailed in the guidance and/or contact a member of TESG.


TESG Progression Support Payments

Access to a payment of £1,000 is available for progression from TESG to unsupported employment. DWP are in the process of distributing version 2 of the Guidance Document to all SBs. This version provides greater clarity on the process, including the potential to continue to draw down TESG for up to 6 months when the individual is on the new employers’ payroll, providing the SB continues to deliver the holistic wrap around support of TESG.

Progression remains an important aspect of the support offered by SBs, the SBSG believes it is recognised by the Minister and DWP as essential to meeting the needs of the individual, promoting a viable business model for SBs and delivering value for money for the Government. An effective progression model is essential to maximise outcomes for individuals and create a viable future for the sector. Should a SB wish to seek support in developing their progression model, they should contact a member of the SBSG who will look where possible to signpost you to an appropriate partner. 


Proof of Concept update

The vast majority of holistic assessments under Phase 1 of the Proof of Concept for Work Choice Protected Places Successor Arrangements have now been completed. DWP have expressed their satisfaction with the process and wish to extend thanks to those SBs and their employees who are taking part. SBSG understands that early indications are that the majority of assessments evidence significant support needs above those available through standard Access to Work. From the assessments DWP are also able to start to form a view on the range of disabilities that are catered for and the nature of employment offered. SBSG are aware that for some individuals the assessment process has been a worry and we are looking to work with participating SBs ensure the lessons are learnt prior to the full roll out of assessments.

The next stage of the Phase 1 process will be for DWP to consider the most appropriate funding model that will

  • Meet the support needs of the individual
  • Be financially viable for SBs
  • Offer the Government value for money.

SBSG will be working with DWP over the coming weeks to understand the implications of the proposed funding mechanism. We are hopeful that this could be shared early in the new financial year following Ministerial approval. 

Phase 2 of the PoC should commence in April with new referrals to the participating SBs being assessed under the new regime. 

DWP continue to explore how best to assure the quality of the employment support offered under the proposals. In January DWP held a premarket event where they engaged with the market to consider the next steps. SBSG understands that DWP will be seeking suitable organisations to provide this assurance and also to look at the fidelity of Supported Employment under future DWP funded Local Authority Supported Employment initiatives. It is hoped that these services will be commissioned to commence in the summer of 2020. 


Widening participation

During the summer DWP will look to extend phase 2 of the PoC to 5 new enterprises to ensure the proposals are scalable. It is likely that this will require some sort of select process. We believe it is still the aim to open up opportunities for all appropriate enterprises in 2021.

A number of organisations have expressed an interest in joining the SBSG. We are pleased to confirm that the SBSG are inviting UnLtd, Social Firms (England, Scotland and Wales), Enham Trust and Gloucestershire County Council to join in April 2020. The addition of these knowledgeable, respected and influential organisations will enhance the capacity and capability of the SBSG to promote and secure a viable and growing environment in which such specialist employers can thrive and create thousands of employments opportunities.


Promoting Supported Businesses

The SBSG has been in contact with Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work - Justin Tomlinson who is eager that SBs increase their profile with Government Procurement Departments and Officers. The SBSG is in discussions with DWP on the development of a ‘brochure’ that will promote the products and services of SBs but also emphasis the unique social value they deliver. It is likely that individual SBs will be asked for information to populate such an initiative in the next few weeks. The SBSG would encourage all SBs to respond to any such requests. 


The future of SBSG

The SBSG would like to thank those SBs who have committed financial support for its work in 2020. We currently have sufficient funding until early summer (2020) and therefore continue to seek financial contributions to enable this critical work to continue. Please contact a member of the SBSG to discuss how you can help.