Job Start Payment: evaluation

This report considers evidence from qualitative research with Job Start Payment (JSP) recipients, stakeholders and Social Security Scotland staff alongside management information to provide learning about the implementation and impact of JSP.


This section introduces Job Start Payment and the rationale behind its implementation. It also summarises the eligibility criteria, aspects of the application process, and the overall evaluation aims relevant to this report.

Job Start Payment: description

The Scottish Government is committed to supporting young people make the transition into employment, to help reduce the risk of them becoming unemployed or economically inactive when they are older. A key part of this is helping young people on low incomes meet some of the initial costs of starting work, including transport costs. These efforts are particularly important given the decreased employment rate amongst 16-24 year olds during the pandemic, which has yet to fully recover.[4] Research shows longer periods out of work can reduce someone's chances of finding a job.[5] Therefore it is crucial that young people who have experienced a sustained period without paid work are given support to enable a smooth and sustainable transition into employment.

The Social Security powers that have been devolved through the Scotland Act 2016 give the Scottish Parliament responsibility for £2.8 billion of social security expenditure (around 15% of total benefit expenditure in Scotland). An Order under section 63 of the Scotland Act 1998 gave the Scottish Government further powers to arrange assistance under section 2 of the Employment and Training Act 1973. Social Security Scotland is the executive agency of Scottish Government that is responsible for delivering social security benefits for Scotland. The agency began taking applications for Job Start Payment on Monday 17 August 2020.

Job Start Payment is a one-off cash sum of either £267.65 for those who do not have responsibility for a child, or a higher amount of £428.25 for those who do have responsibility for a child. It is available to young people who have been out of paid work and receiving a qualifying low income benefit for at least six months prior to finding employment. To be eligible, on the day of the job offer they must:

  • Be aged 16 to 24 years
  • Have been offered a paid job which averages at least 12 hours per week over a four week period
  • Have been out of paid work and receiving an income related benefit continuously for six months or more
  • Be living in Scotland with a Scottish postcode.

The eligibility for care leavers is slightly different - they only have to be out of work and in receipt of a qualifying benefit on the date of their job offer, not the preceding six months. They are also eligible for Job Start Payment for an additional year i.e. until their 26th birthday.

The qualifying benefits for Job Start Payment are: Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance, Income Support, Income-related Employment Support Allowance, and Universal Credit. Some 16 and 17 years olds can be in receipt of a qualifying benefit if any of the following apply:

  • They are caring for a severely disabled person
  • They have child responsibility and are the main carer of a child
  • They are no longer in touch with their parents
  • They are limited in their ability to work.

The payment can be used for any purpose by the recipient. For example, it could help with travel costs or could be used for clothing, lunches, and other expenses they have before receiving their first salary. Applications can be made up to three months after the date of the job offer. If a young person receives Job Start Payment and subsequently finds themselves out of work they will be able to apply again, but not until two years after their previous payment.

Application process

Applications can be made online, by phone, and by paper form. Social Security Scotland processes each application received and makes a decision whether to approve or deny the application. An application will be denied if the client is not eligible to receive Job Start Payment. An application will be authorised if the applicant is eligible and provides the appropriate evidence to receive Job Start Payment. Applicants may also withdraw their application before a decision is made.

Applicants can choose to provide supporting evidence when making an application by post or through online document upload. If an applicant does not provide all the evidence required for an application, they will be contacted by a client advisor and asked to provide this. Once this evidence has been received, Social Security Scotland aims to make a decision as soon as possible with payments following soon thereafter.

Accessibility of Job Start Payment

Social Security Scotland is committed to accessibility. To maximise this, multiple application channels are available: digital, paper and telephone. The digital application process is compatible with assistive technologies and clients can request 3 phone calls and letters in a variety of formats e.g. in over 100 different languages, using BSL video calls, or in braille, easy read and large print.

Evaluation aims

The Scottish Government published its approach to evaluating the first wave of devolved social security benefits, including Job Start Payment, in November 2019.[6]

The purpose of the evaluation is to provide learning about the overall implementation of the benefit and the extent to which Job Start Payment's immediate and short-term outcomes have been met, now that the benefit has been in operation for almost two years. In doing so, it can also assess progress towards Job Start Payment's medium-term outcomes and its possible contribution to the Scottish Government's National Indicators – such as the young people's participation in education, training or employment indicator in the National Performance Framework[7]. However, these longer-term impacts will also be affected by Scottish Government interventions outwith social security, which are also designed to support young people into employment (e.g. Young Person's Guarantee). As such, any impacts will not only be attributable to Job Start Payment.

Specifically, the evaluation objectives are to:

1. Evaluate the extent to which Job Start Payment has met its policy outcomes.

2. Assess the potential contribution of Job Start Payment to the Scottish Government's strategic aims for employment of young people.

3. Discuss implications for future policy development.

The findings will form the policy evaluation of Job Start Payment, and will set

the groundwork for policy improvements.



Back to top