Fair Start Scotland evaluation report 2: local area case studies - November 2019

Part of the Fair Start Scotland evaluation series. It presents detailed findings from the first wave of local area case studies in Alloa, Wick and Irvine and includes feedback from FSS service providers, participants, local delivery partners and other local people facing similar barriers to employment.

Appendix 1 – Scottish policy context

FSS built on the achievements of the Scottish Government’s transitional employment services and was designed on the basis of extensive consultation with key partners, stakeholders and those who need support in seeking employment. It has a number of features which distinguish it from previous approaches:

  • It is built around the Fair Work principles of dignity and respect. Crucially, participation is voluntary, and people can choose to take part without a risk to existing benefits. The Fair Work principles are embedded in the rest of the service design, with a focus on understanding the individual situation of each participant, ensuring that they are treated with respect throughout the process and receive services and support which help them make progress towards work that is fair and can be sustained over the long term.
  • It is delivered by lead contractors and their partners/supply chains in nine contract areas across Scotland: there is no local competition for clients or jobs between SG contractors, and the delivery can reflect the different geographies, labour markets and population distribution. It can also take account of the widely differing local infrastructure of support and seek to align with and complement other provision.
  • It is being delivered collaboratively across a range of private, public and third sector delivery partners including a range of specialist providers to ensure people receive the right type of support for them.
  • It encourages providers to commit to the Fair Work, Workforce and Community Benefits agendas
  • It includes an offer of supported employment which helps disabled people learn on the job.   

The Scottish Government’s ambitions for the Scottish employability service go beyond FSS. There has been a long-term concern about the ‘cluttered landscape’ of provision and about weak alignment between a range of funding and services which shared the same key aims. This has led to a focus on ensuring clarity, consistency and ease of access for both those seeking work and employers seeking recruits.

This is the concern that lay behind the publication in March 2018 of No One Left Behind: Next Steps for the Integration and Alignment of Employability Support in Scotland. This document focused on how to better align services around the needs of individual clients and it established a set of objectives to inform the alignment of services:

  • A system that provides flexible and person-centred support…
  • Is more straightforward for people to navigate…
  • Is better integrated and aligned with other services…
  • Provides pathways into sustainable and fair work…
  • Is funded in a simple and co-ordinated way…
  • Is driven by evidence, including data and the experience of users…
  • Supports more people to move into the right job, at the right time.

Behind these objectives lay a range of commitments to enhance employability services in Scotland. These focus on bringing together a range of services and funding into much stronger alignment. These include:

  • Integrating investment in Activity Agreements and the Scottish Employer Recruitment Incentive into the employability approaches of Local Authorities
  • Integrating the funding for other services, such as the Employability Fund and Community Jobs Scotland, into a devolved approach
  • Developing a collectively agreed national outcomes and measurement framework to help front line service providers – public, private and third sector – align their activity and deliver more flexible services
  • Exploring the feasibility of developing the national all-age employment support offer, developing existing digital careers and employability platforms, alongside improved alignment with health and other services.
  • Underpinning these lay a commitment to exploring how to better integrate employability support for those who were unemployed and with a complex array of needs which could include health, housing and social justice experience. This was reflected in the announcement in August 2017 of the projects that would receive funding from the Employability Innovation and Integration Fund to join up employability provision with health and social care, justice and housing services.  

The focus on exploring some of the practical ways of enhancing more integrated approaches to health and work is shown in a range of initiatives which include:

  • The Health and Work Support Pilot in Dundee and Fife (funded by the DWP’s Health and Work Innovation Fund and the Scottish Government).
  • A recognition, for example, through the review of Glasgow HSCP funded employability projects in Glasgow, of the significance in some areas of employability related investment by Health and Social Care Partnerships which are funding some innovative approaches to employability support for those with health conditions, including addictions, mental health issues and physical disabilities.
  • The DWP and DHSS’s Work and Health Challenge Fund which
  • is now funding 19 projects across the UK – including 4 with a presence in Scotland – which are exploring innovative approaches to creating integrated approaches to helping those with health conditions stay in work or find jobs.

FSS forms a key part of the employability landscape at a time of significant change and evolution in the coordination and coherence of local provision and wide experimentation about effective joined up services for those with an array of needs and barriers to work. This is infused by the focus on fair work and respect and dignity.


Email: kirstie.corbett@gov.scot

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