Supported Business update (October 2019)

Supported Business update (October 2019)

The Supported Business Steering Group (SBSG) have continued to engage with DWP but Supported Businesses (SBs) will not be surprised to hear that the turmoil in Westminster continues to mean slow progress in regards to policy approval.

The SBSG are meeting with DWP on 22nd October and we remain hopeful that we will then be able to communicate how progress will be made on both the TESG progression payments and the EESG Proof of Concept.

The Steering Group are also taking forward the concerns that continue to come from SBs on TESG assessment and claiming processes. There appears to be considerable inconsistences in what SBs and their employees are experiencing.

It is important that these issues are resolved quickly as the slow take up of places and substantial underclaiming of TESG funds is raising questions across DWP on the need for such funding. The Steering Group encourage all SBs to submit their claims as a matter of urgency. If there are particular reasons why you are unable to please contact Ian Milton at DWP so that they are aware of the issue.

With the ongoing uncertainty around the timing of EESG, the Steering Group are pushing for a further extension to TESG to provide SBs with a level of funding certainty for business planning. We will update you when and if we are successful.

The Steering Group believes this potential delay creates significant risk for the Supported Business sector. In general, we have moved a long way from the days when SBs as ‘workshops’ delivered ‘Sheltered Employment’ and were considered ‘ghettos’. It is recognised that today, disabled people employed in Supported Businesses work within a specialist supportive environment which encourages, promotes and delivers personal development in a person-centred way. Supported Businesses are recognised as inclusive and exemplar employers.  However, the further in time we move away from the contractual requirements of Work Choice the greater the risk that these standards are eroded. The widening of the sector to other social enterprises is a further risk to the standards currently delivered by SBs.

It is for these reasons that the Steering Group has been working with the Social Enterprise Mark to develop SEDEM and LADEM.  In the past we have relied on DWP to drive the standards within the sector. This will no longer be the case. The sector needs to own and drive these standards. As an individual business you can control your own standards but there is no mechanism at present to ensure the sector as a whole doesn’t, over time, revert to past practice which would lead to well-founded criticism and loss of funding and political support. We have seen it happen in the past. 

The Steering Group therefore strongly encourages all SBs to take a role in developing a sector wide Quality Framework. The starting point being SEDEM and LADEM.

The BASE conference is nearly upon us – November 5th and 6th in Manchester. The SBSG, in conjunction with DWP, are running a double workshop on the Future of Supported Businesses. This is an ideal opportunity to hear from DWP about their vision of the future for SBs, to learn about current developments; share ideas and concerns and most importantly shape the future of your sector. We look forward to seeing you in November.