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.

Appendix 1: FSS policy and delivery background information

DWP contracted employment provision and the Smith Agreement

The UK Government delivers services to support unemployed people into work through the Department for Work and Pensions. This includes a range of contracted support. The Work Programme and Work Choice (for disabled people) are the two main employment support contracts. Following the Scottish Independence Referendum in 2014, the Smith Agreement set out a range of new powers for Scotland which included devolution of contracted employment support to Scotland. DWP contracts for both Work Programme and Work Choice expired on 31 March 2017, and devolved services commenced from 3 April 2017


The 2016 Scotland Act (“the Act”) enables the Scottish Government to implement the further devolution set out in the Smith Agreement in 2014. Clause 31 of the Act gives the Scottish Government the legislative competence to create employment schemes to assist those at risk of becoming long-term unemployed who are receiving UK benefits such as Universal Credit, and to help disabled people into work, including schemes which seek to help employers find suitable employees.

Consultation and the SG response

A consultation in 2015 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[23] sets out the key values and principles which underpin the new services. 

Our Values

  • Dignity and respect; 
  • Fairness and Equality; and
  • Continuous Improvement.

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.

Value 2: Fairness and Equality

Our approach to employment support will not be driven solely by a need to reduce the Welfare Bill and focus on those with the best prospects of moving into work. Instead we will aim to contribute to a broader range of economic and social outcomes by supporting those furthest from the labour market. Customers of the Service will reflect this core value. 

Value 3: Continuous Improvement 

In the first instance, our priority will be to ensure a smooth transition from existing UK services to our new Scottish arrangements.

Scottish Government policies, processes and systems will evolve in response to individual, employer and community need across Scotland. The Scottish Government will ensure that they remain fit for purpose through close engagement with stakeholders and Service users alike.

Our Principles

We are developing a Scottish approach based on the principles of:

  • Delivery of a flexible ‘whole person’ approach;
  • Services that are responsive to those with high needs;
  • A drive towards real jobs;
  • Services designed and delivered in partnership;
  • Services designed nationally but adapted and delivered locally; and
  • Contracts that combine payment by job outcome and progression towards work.


Transition in 2017

Scottish Ministers agreed a 1 year transition from April 2017. The focus was continuity in support for those who are unemployed with significant barriers to work, while building towards a Scottish programme of support from April 2018. Further information on WFS and WAS services, including evaluation reports, is available on the Employability in Scotland website: http://www.employabilityinscotland.com/

Fair Start Scotland

The Scottish programme of support (Fair Start Scotland)[24] replaced the transitional arrangements from 3 April 2018. The service focuses on helping people with disabilities and those most disadvantaged in the labour market to move into and sustain fair work. 

Eligibility and early entry groups

Through delivery of the FSS service, the Scottish Government is looking to support a minimum of 38,000 Customers’ over 3 years of referrals. These Customers must be in receipt of a reserved UK out of work benefit, unless they are disabled, and will be either:

  • aged 18 years old and over, out of work and living in Scotland; or
  • aged 16 or 17 years old and are either disabled or in receipt of Employment and Support Allowance.

The Service aims to support individuals who:

  • have a disability or additional support need (with disability as defined in the Equality Act 2010).
  • have been unemployed for a long time (those reaching 2 years on Job Seekers Allowance/ Universal Credit equivalent). 
  • are currently in the Employment and Support Allowance Work Related Activity Group.
  • have caring responsibilities
  • are a single parent
  • are a care leaver
  • are from a minority ethnic community 
  • are a refugee 
  • are a person with a conviction
  • live in the 15% most deprived Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) areas.
  • have a health problem which presents a barrier to employment.


Email: Kirstie.Corbett@gov.scot

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