SB policy development

SB policy development

A number of our members manage supported businesses. These pages will offer an update on the activity that BASE engages in to promote their work. Many receive DWP funding through the Protected Places scheme that has operated under the Work Choice programme. 

Setting the scene

Each supported business entered Work Choice from the previous Workstep programme with an allocated volume of Protected Places. There was agreement for the funding of some unoccupied places on condition that at 26-weeks, if still unoccupied, they would return to the DWP for re-distribution to other Supported Businesses who could recruit and fill the places via Work Choice. 

The DWP-funded Work Choice programme is closing and will be replaced by the Work and Health Programme. Scotland received the final Work Choice referrals on 31 March 2017.  In England and Wales, as Work Choice referrals are planned to cease in September / October 2017, SB’s will only be able to receive M1 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 yet, there is no mechanism planned for referrals to supported businesses after Work Choice or within the new Work and Health Programme. BASE has been working with DWP and the Supported Business Alliance (SBA) through a Supported Business Steering Group to address issues of concern to supported businesses. 

BASE has established a Supported Business Focus Group to advise us. The group is chaired by Mel Walls and members include MTIB, Industrial Services Group, Pluss, Swindon Borough Council, GIS Healthcare, and County Print Finishers.


The Supported Business steering group

The group meets regularly and current membership is:

  • Jeremy Robinson (SBA and Clarity)
  • Richard Wellfoot (SBA and MTIB)
  • Melanie Walls (BASE)
  • Geoff Streetley – SBA and RBLi
  • Gemma Hope (Shaw Trust)
  • Jenny Brick (SBA and Realise Futures)
  • Sarah Knights (Realise Futures)
  • Stuart Edwards (DWP Access to Work)
  • Kevin Keenan (DWP Disability Employment and Support Directorate)
  • Martin Davies (Independent Advisor and meeting chair)
  • Simon Parkinson (Co-operative College and Movement)
  • Ed Hawker – DWP Disability Employment and Support Directorate)
  • Peter Holbrooke (Social Enterprise UK)



BASE and the SBA have been looking at the viability of supported businesses receiving direct referrals or being commissioned through Jobcentre Plus' Dynamic Procurement System to offer the following services:

  • Assessment placements
  • Work experience placements
  • Intermediate labour market

Any ongoing support is planned to be secured through Access to Work recognising the unique specialist support provided within Supported Businesses through a new category of funding.

This activity will allow Supported Businesses to be able to replace staff when they leave, by having a mechanism to provide another disabled client the opportunity of employment, as well as providing further opportunities when business grows. Consequently, Supported Businesses will be able to generate the required funds to continue to provide sustained employment opportunities for people with disabilities and health conditions and continue to be an integral part of DWP’s aim to halve the Disability Employment Gap.

Further updates will be posted below.