Fair Start Scotland evaluation report 1: implementation and early delivery review

This Fair Start Scotland (FSS) evaluation report covers evaluation findings and data analysis relating to the implementation and early delivery of FSS employment support services in the first 6 months of delivery.

7. Values and Principles

This chapter of the report outlines the feedback gathered from participants and Service Providers on the ethos of the FSS service delivery model. In 2015, a public consultation on the shape and design of devolved services received 215 responses and the Scottish Government has built on those responses to develop its new employment services. Creating a Fairer Scotland: A new future for employability support in Scotland[20] sets out the key values and principles which underpin the new services. Being treated with dignity and respect is the first of these values, and is central to the FSS service delivery ethos:

Value 1: Dignity and respect 

Scottish Ministers are clear that Scotland’s public services will be based on a culture of respect. We will have a social contract with the people of Scotland that states Scotland’s public services will treat everyone with respect and dignity, and the public will treat staff providing those services in the same way. The Service will be an exemplar of this approach. 

Individuals can expect to be treated with dignity and respect through each step of their journey into work.

Overall, the words and phrases used by participants to describe how they felt they had been treated by FSS Service Providers were encouraging. Participants frequently mentioned the importance of what seemed on the surface to be small gestures from the Service Providers, for example, being offered a tea or coffee when they arrived for their appointment. However, these things made a real difference to how people felt they were being treated. Participants felt that these actions were indicative of the wider ethos of the service – that each participant was both an individual and a person, and that they deserved to be listened to and have a say, about not only their FSS journey, but about their future. 

When you walk in…”do you want a coffee, the kitchen’s up there, there’s coffee there, there’s tea there, there’s biscuits whatever, just go and help yourself” and the banter’s amazing, they’re not like people you’d expect them to be.
- Glasgow participant 

With Fair Start they’ve actually taken an interest in what I really want to do and I’ve been quite surprised about how much they’ve actually listened to me and looking for things that I want to do. Even although I didn’t have much confidence, they kind of had this belief.
- Edinburgh participant 

Amongst participants there was recognition of the shame and stigma they felt was associated with being unemployed. They reported feeling that advisors were able to see beyond this stigma to the person, and to offer support. 

…it’s a public opinion about people who are on minimum wage or no wage, who have addiction problems…I thought I actually have here someone who is open-minded who sees more beyond what she understands...who understands that mental health does not fit in a programme where you can tick the boxes.
- Renfrew participant

[After] I went for the interview with the Call Centre he asked how it went and I actually said to him I felt quite embarrassed because it was all twenty year old kids just out of college and I’m a forty six year old man, been in the army and done security most of my life, never worked in a Call Centre, I don’t have English Degrees, a College Degree or anything like that so I was kind of sitting there going…you know that way, getting all emotional because you know you’re not getting the job even before you went for the interview. And I said that to him and…we sat down and had a forty five minute talk.
- Renfrew participant 

Several participants talked about feeling like they were treated as an equal by advisors and staff on the service, and not as ‘a burden’. This seemed to reflect an internalisation of both the perceived low public opinion of people who are unemployed, as well as people’s experiences of the unemployment system. 

[I feel like I’ve been treated] like I worked here, like I was part of their team, they’re brilliant, absolutely amazing, the lassie here has been brilliant, just above and beyond. 
- H&I participant 

If you needed to see him two or three times a week he would slot you in so you never felt like you were a burden, it was always there, “if you need to come and see me just let us know”
- Aberdeen participant 

There was also recognition that people’s needs were often complex and interlinked, and that those with complex needs who were furthest from the labour market were often overlooked

It [unemployment] could happen to anyone, your circumstances could change so easy and it opens your eyes because I used to…to always think there must be something they can do. But when you get involved in the system …you can see with people with mental health issues they get put aside, nobody really bothers about them.
- Dundee participant 

The majority of participants used comparators when describing their experience of FSS services to date. Often participants had previous extensive contact with a variety of support services, due to the sometimes complex and/or multiple issues they faced. Participants most commonly compared their FSS experience with previous experience of employability support from JCP. This comparison was not always favourable in respect of JCP services. However, many participants made the point that systemic constraints and pressures could often impact on the level of support available from JCP Work Coaches, and described their individual Work Coaches as ‘enthusiastic’ and ‘quite good’.

Even the nice Advisors at the Job Centre just don’t have the time to help you with these things, what they’re focused on doing is pushing you into jobs even with fewer hours, part-time, minimum wage, whatever…but with Fair Start…they’re going to find something that’s right for you where you can kind of excel and succeed in and I think that’s a better long term strategy.
- Edinburgh participant 

The [Job Centre] Advisors have to be under pressure to make sure they’re getting the right feedback off you for work…so they’re bound to have targets that they’ve got to hit as well. But it’s their job and you’ve got to see it as a job and that’s what they have to do. 
- Falkirk participant 

For both those who had found work and those who hadn’t, there was discussion about the process when starting work, and the financial impact of the time between any benefits being stopped and receiving an initial wage

You know if it’s long term and there is no safety pot somewhere, it’s hard to survive. I’ve got incredibly good friends but it’s still hard and if I had to wait that period of time [between starting employment and receiving first wage]…you know I’ve been thinking about that more lately and it kind of spirals me into a bit of a panic. 
- Aberdeen participant 

Finally, it’s worth noting that, in the online surveys of both Service Provider and JCP frontline staff conducted by Rocket Science, both groups mentioned the FSS “approach” or ethos” when asked about the top three aspects of FSS services delivery they felt had gone well. The proportions were small for both groups of respondents in the context of the overall number of comments made (around 13% for JCP Work Coaches and under 10% for frontline Service Provider staff), but this theme was among the most commonly reported for both groups. Figures 7 and 8 show these responses in more detail.

What worked well?

  • Participants were overwhelmingly positive in their feedback about the values and principles of FSS. It should be noted that the focus group participants were recruited through FSS Service Providers for each Lot as a ‘convenience’ sample. As such, the views and experiences reported here may not be representative of the wider FSS participant population.

What are we doing?

  • The next phase of the evaluation will continue to focus on the service user experience and will include feedback on other measures of success, including progression towards work and other positive outcomes, and the extent to which the voluntary offer impacts on referrals into service.


Email: Kirstie.Corbett@gov.scot

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