4. Summary & Next Steps
Throughout the second year of delivery, Fair Start Scotland has made significant progress, from enhancing the delivery model, to the improved relationships with local partners.
Fair Start Scotland has supported over 22,000 participants in the first two years of delivery, and has seen over 6,600 people move into work as a result of this support, with many of these participants overcoming a range of barriers in the process.
Over the course of Year 2, and through our test and learn approach to delivering Fair Start Scotland, we have worked continually with Service Providers and partners such as JCP to identify where improvements could be made to the service.
This flexibility has allowed us to make improvements to the delivery model, ensuring participants continue to receive high quality person-centred support in line with the ethos of the service. It is also evident from participants' feedback that not only does this type of service support them towards and into work, it also significantly improves their mental health and wellbeing.
The Scottish Government and Service Providers continue to work together to identify further improvements to the delivery model, particularly now in response to COVID-19 and the potential for further economic shocks from EU Exit.
The COVID-19 pandemic has already had a profound impact on the service with DWP referrals temporarily stopping at the end of Year 2. While Service Providers have significantly increased their third party referrals, it is unlikely that we will achieve our ambition to support 38,000 people by the end of March 2021.
Despite this, we will continue to work towards our ambition and ensure that we support as many people as we can, whilst working closely with all partners to identify changes in traditional employment destinations and adapt to emerging priorities, new sectors and different skill sets.
We recognise that the coming year will bring challenges, including increasing unemployment and fewer opportunities for participants. However, we remain focused on our ambition to develop locally aligned and integrated employment support services which place people at the centre of the system and our learning from the continued delivery of Fair Start Scotland remains an essential part of this journey.
We will publish our No One Left Behind Delivery Plan in November 2020, outlining the key milestones from April 2022, which will increase our focus on user engagement, service design, local governance arrangements, shared measurement and a common approach to inclusive communications.
The pandemic has highlighted the importance of partnership working across the employability sector, and it is vital that this commitment to multi agency partnership work sits at the core of all activities moving forward. Collaborative working is at the heart of a whole systems approach, which recognises that everyone has a role to play in tackling the causes and effects of inequality and adversity. Tackling inequalities, compounded by COVID-19 requires the engagement and leadership of the sector.