Q and A

Q and A

The Supported Business Focus Group has compiled the following Q&A. If you have any comments or additional information, please contact melanie.walls@base-uk.org

The Supported Business Focus Group consists of Mel Walls (BASE), Richard Welfoot/Petra Kennedy and Peter Keeley (Supported Business Alliance), Gill Ireson (Pluss), Matt Morrison-Clarke (Swindon Borough Council Enterprise Works), Vikki Walters, Nikki Fellows and Dave Honeybill (GIS Healthcare, Gloucestershire) and Will Gardner (County Print Finishers, Oxfordshire).


Q; What will happen to Supported Businesses when the Work and Health Programme (WHP) comes in, particularly Protected Place vacancies? 

A: Our groups experience has been that Supported Businesses aren’t seen to be of interest to any Prime looking to deliver the Work and Health Programme. However, Supported Businesses can be a specialist provider, offer a range of innovations that could be of use and within price range.  In one area, two out of three Primes were interested in what could be provided to enhance their provision of service.

We all noted that Primes delivering WHP don’t have the funding out of the contract to pay the Supported Businesses a value that covers cost. However, other provision would like to tap in to training, support etc that is available. It’s about marketing to them so they know you are there. 


Q: How will the change from Work Choice to the Work and Health Programme impact on hosted places, which many Supported Businesses operate to support more of their employees into sustainable employment. 

A: We agreed that there has been a reliance on hosted employment through the Supported Businesses. However, as the funding is currently allocated to the Work Choice budget, these options will cease when the Module One caseload ends. 


Q: Is there a time line around the ending of Work Choice and referrals to Supported Business? 

A: Referrals to Work Choice (Module 1) will finish at the end of September 2017. It is still possible this might get extended by DWP. Whilst on Module 1, clients can be referred to a Supported Business for support. Support Businesses funding is scheduled to end in October 2018. Work Choice delivery (Modules 2 and 3) will continue up to March 2019 (Wales and England) or October 2018 (Scotland). 


Q: Will we have enough Module One clients to fill vacancies up to October 2018?

A: The announcements regarding the closure of Work Choice are that this is being conducted in 2 phases:

  1. Scotland received the last Work Choice Module 1 referral on the 31st March 2017, so are currently supporting their M1 caseload onto their next steps, including employment, training etc. 

When recently reviewed with Scottish providers, it would seem that they now have under 50% of the Module One caseload left. This reduction is over a 3 month period with many participants having gone on to secure employment.  

  1. England and Wales Work Choice referrals are planned to cease in September/October 2017, so Supported Businesses will only be able to receive Module 1 Work Choice referrals up to the last day of the main Work Choice provision being live. However, Work Choice Supported Business Protected Place contracts will still be running until October 2018. As the pipeline of potential appropriate Module 1 clients will reduce month on month, this means that there will not be enough Module 1 clients to fill the places available through to October 2018.  

DWP have stated that they do not intend to reduce down the number of Module 1 places available prior to the potential end of the contract in October 2018. However, it is clear that unless an alternative referral flow is introduced these Module 1 places will be initially unused and subsequently reduced.


Q: Having worked for many years to encourage a flow of new clients through the Supported Businesses, how are we going to ensure that this momentum is not lost with the changeover of programmes? 

A: New opportunities are currently being worked on around Supported Businesses offering assessments, placements and Intermediate Labour Market models to JCP who would procure through their Dynamic Purchasing System.  Additionally, prime contractors and NHS clients using personal budgets may be interested in these services.  At present, a standardised model is being produced by the Supported Business Steering Group which consists of BASE, Supported Business Alliance, Royal British Legion along with the DWP, who are in an advisory position.

MTIB are liaising with their local JCP to test if they want to purchase this service. Feedback to date is that it is not a cheap option, but it will produce some income for the Supported Business and of course, the client coming in to the business will contribute to the workforce.


Q: There is talk of Protected Place funding being replaced by Access to Work. On review, what could this look like?

A: Will Gardner at County Print Finishers has been testing this with a none-Protected Place employee, who requires a range of support.  A vacancy was created, suitable client recruited and an immediate application for Access to Work made.  Delays were experienced around the need to gather 3 quotes for support, which for the client was overwhelming. 

We are in discussion with DWP regarding the requirement for 3 quotes for support through Access to Work.


Q: What are the discussions around legacy employees?

A: The previous definition of legacy / Transition Protected Place employee was someone who was employed prior to the Work Choice start date of 25/10/2010. However, our group feel that a Module Three Protected Place employee should be considered Legacy too (pre and post Work Choice commencing). We are expecting some clarity on this from DWP around Autumn this year. 


Q: When Supported Businesses have been told funding is going up to October 2018, why have some areas been told (via DWP letter) that it Is March 2019?

A: Work Choice as an entity finishes March/April 2019. Referrals to Work Choice will end in 2017. There is an expectation that Module One flow will last till October 2018.

Additionally, Supported Businesses might want to progress and also sustain suitable employee’s outcomes during the last 6 months of the contract being open.  Collaborative working with your Prime and/or their supply chain should support this activity and be to everyone’s benefit if you're not already working closely together.


Q: Can we move someone who was in Module Two to Module Three when referred prior to 25/04/2017? For example, if a client started a Module Two Work Choice Protected Place role in August 2015 can we now move them into Module Three? 

A: Work Choice Provider Guidance Section 5.7 states that Module Two can last for a maximum of two years or until the close of the Work Choice programme, whichever is the sooner. However, as life circumstances, including impairments, can change over time, some participants may start by receiving support via Module Two – because at the time unsupported employment looked an achievable goal – but subsequently require the long-term supported employment of Module Three. A change of module could occur at any time if it has become clear that the need for support is likely to be ongoing, or because the move to unsupported employment, whilst still achievable, is likely to take longer than two years.