Fair Start Scotland evaluation report 2: overview of year one - November 2019

Second report in a series on the evaluation of Fair Start Scotland employability services. It covers the first full year of service delivery (Mar 18 - Apr 19) and summarises findings from a participant phone survey, local area case studies and analysis of management information.


Appendix 1: Evaluation Methodology

The Fair Start Scotland (FSS) Wave 1 telephone survey was carried out in June 2019, on a sample drawn from all beneficiaries who took part in FSS from its commencement in March 2018 until the end of December 2018.

IFF were provided with sample consisting of all starts on the FSS service during this period. Following data cleaning, a total of 6,780 records were available, of which 6,044 had a valid telephone number and address. From those with full contact details, 3,175 pieces of sample were drawn. Sample was drawn in proportion with the distribution of participants by lot, with Lot 8 (Highlands & Islands) slightly oversampled to ensure a minimum base for subgroup analysis of this region. Table 1.1 below shows the number of records drawn and the number of surveys achieved from each lot.

Table 1.1: Sample drawn and surveys completed per Lot

Lot All sample Sample drawn Unweighted responses Weighted responses
N % N % N % N %
Lot 1 Glasgow 1289 19.0% 597 18.8% 176 17.5% 191 19.0%
Lot 2 Lanarkshire 1262 18.6% 584 18.4% 174 17.3% 187 18.6%
Lot 3 Tayside 740 10.9% 346 10.9% 99 9.9% 110 10.9%
Lot 4 Forth Valley 551 8.1% 257 8.1% 83 8.3% 81 8.1%
Lot 5 East 1102 16.3% 514 16.2% 184 18.3% 164 16.3%
Lot 6 South West 636 9.4% 295 9.3% 93 9.3% 94 9.4%
Lot 7 North East 393 5.8% 181 5.7% 55 5.5% 58 5.8%
Lot 8 Highlands and Islands 291 4.3% 159 5.0% 60 6.0% 43 4.3%
Lot 9 West 516 7.6% 241 7.6% 81 8.1% 76 7.6%
Total 6780 100% 3175 100% 1,005 100% 1,005 100%

Participants were sent an advance letter two weeks prior to fieldwork to notify them of the research and offer them the opportunity to decline to take part. Telephone fieldwork was conducted between 3rd June and 28th June, and 1,005 completed interviews were achieved. A full breakdown of sample outcomes is shown in Table 1.2.

Table 1.2: Sample outcomes

Number Proportion of starting sample (%)
Total sample 3,175 100%
Opt outs 47 1.5%
Unusable (for example, wrong number) 159 5.0%
Contact attempted, no final outcome after minimum number of attempts 1696 53.4%
Refusal 266 8.4%
Respondent stopped or screened out during survey 2 0.1%
Total surveys completed 1,005 31.7%

The survey was 20 minutes in length. The data was checked, tabulated and verbatim responses were fully coded for analysis purposes. A rim weight (based on age, gender and lot) was applied to bring the oversampled Lot 8 back in line with population proportions and to correct for any non-response bias.

More detail on the breakdown of respondent profile by Lot, after weighting, is set out in Tables 1.3 and 1.4 of the original report. See: Fair Start Scotland Evaluation Report 2: Participant phone survey (year 1).

Local Area Case Studies

The local area case study research focuses on developing case studies in 9 localities across Scotland over the three years, one in each contract Lot area. The research involves carrying out the following tasks in each of the case study areas:

  • Conducting desk-based area analysis of the socio-economic and employment trends in each of the localities to understand the local labour market context that FSS is operating in;
  • Analysing the management and performance data from FSS in each of the localities to understand the profile and numbers of participants and outcomes achieved in the area;
  • Conducting interviews with participants in each locality to understand their experience of and views on FSS;
  • Conducting interviews with individuals in each locality who would be eligible for FSS but have not participated in the service to understand potential barriers individuals face in participating in FSS;
  • Conducting interviews with employers in each locality to understand their experience of and views on FSS;
  • Conducting interviews with service provider staff including managers and frontline staff delivering FSS locally to understand their experience of and views on the service;
  • Conducting interviews with staff in partners of FSS providers in the locality to understand their experience of and views on FSS; and
  • Conducting interviews with relevant other stakeholders in the area to understand their experience of and views on FSS.

FSS participants were contacted through a database of all service participants supplied by Scottish Government. We emailed all participants living in Alloa, Irvine and Wick who had taken part in the service for at least 6 months and issued an introductory letter to 112 participants across all three areas – 76 by email and 36 by post. We followed this up with a telephone call to arrange an interview, making a maximum of three attempts to contact each participant.

We recruited non-participants by contacting 20 public and third sector organisations with employability services operating in Alloa, Irvine and Wick. These included: local authority-led employability services; community hubs; housing associations; charities that provide employability support; and third sector interfaces. In addition, we liaised with the FSS providers to explore whether they were delivering other services involving people who were eligible for FSS but not taking part.

As anticipated, identifying eligible non-participants proved challenging. Half of the organisations we contacted did not respond and all but one of the responding organisations were unable to identify eligible non-participants. In total, we conducted 30 interviews with participants and non-participants – 18 participants and 12 non-participants. This figure is broken down by participant group and type of interview in Table 1.3 below.

Table 1.3: Interviews conducted with participants and non-participants

Face-to-face Telephone No. of interviews
Participants (out of 112 participants contacted) 5 13 18
Non-participants (from 20 organisations contacted) 8 4 12
Total interviews conducted 30

Appendix 2: Fair Start Scotland Service Providers and Contract Areas

On 4 October 2017 the Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills, Jamie Hepburn MSP, announced the award of Contracts up to £96 million to deliver Fair Start Scotland, to be delivered by a mixed economy of public, private and third sector suppliers in nine Contract Areas (Lots) across Scotland, as set out in Table 1 below.

Table 1: FSS Service Providers and supply chain by contract area and local authority area (current at time of research fieldwork Nov-Dec 2018).

Contract area Local authority Successful Bidder Delivery Partners/Sub Contracted Estimated Value (up to £ million)
1 - Glasgow Glasgow People Plus Group Ltd (Private)
  • Remploy (Supported Business)
  • Momentum (Third Sector)
  • The Lennox Partnership (Third Sector)
2 - Lanarkshire N Lanarkshire
S Lanarkshire
Remploy Limited (Supported Business)
  • ENABLE Scotland (Third Sector)
  • Routes to Work South (Third Sector)
3 - Tayside Angus
Dundee City
Perth and Kinross
Remploy Limited (Supported Business)
  • Rathbone (Third Sector)
4 - Forth Valley Falkirk
Falkirk Council (Public Sector)
  • Falkirk Council (Public Sector)
  • Clackmannanshire Council (Public Sector)
  • Stirling Council (Public Sector)
  • NHS Forth Valley (Public Sector)
5 - East City of Edinburgh
East Lothian
Scottish Borders
West Lothian
Start Scotland Limited
(Private and Third Sector Partnership)
  • Momentum (Third Sector)
  • Triage (Private)
  • Working Links* (Private)
6 - Southwest North Ayrshire
South Ayrshire
East Ayrshire
Dumfries and Galloway
Start Scotland Limited (Private and Third Sector Partnership)
  • Working Links* (Private)
  • Rathbone (Third Sector)
  • The Lennox Partnership (Third Sector)
  • The Wise Group (Third Sector)
7 - Northeast Aberdeen City
Momentum Scotland (Third Sector)
  • Life Skills Centres Limited (Private)
  • ENABLE Scotland (Third Sector)
  • Aberdeen Foyer (Third Sector)
  • Scottish Association for Mental Health (Third Sector)
  • Enterprise Mentoring Ltd (Private)
8 - Highlands and Islands Argyll and Bute
Eilean Siar
Orkney Islands
Shetland Islands
People Plus Ltd (Private)
  • Argyll and Bute Council (Public Sector)
  • Life Skills Centres Ltd (Private)
  • Lochaber Hope (Third Sector)
  • Momentum Scotland (Third Sector)
  • Third Sector Hebrides (Third Sector)
  • 2020 Clearview Ltd (Private)
9 - West E Renfrewshire
E Dunbartonshire
W Dunbartonshire
The Wise Group (Third Sector)
  • The Lennox Partnership (Third Sector)
  • Working Links* (Private)
  • ENABLE Scotland (Third Sector)
  • Royal National Institute for the Blind (Third Sector)

(*Working Links went into liquidation in February 2019 and their share of the Start Scotland contract was taken over by FedCap (third sector) in March 2019).

Appendix 3: FSS Evaluation Plan

The Scottish Government is committed to providing a robust, independent evaluation of the delivery process and outcomes of Fair Start Scotland services. All findings will contribute to our understanding of what works in employment support for individuals and to the continuous improvement of policy and service delivery. Scottish Government will also use these findings to help ensure accountability and value for money from the procurement and management of future services from 2021 onwards.

The evaluation will be undertaken by independent research contractors, following a mixed methods approach delivered over three phases (Figure 11):

Figure 11: FSS Evaluation Phases

Phase Focus Time period
Phase 1 Implementation and early delivery review First 6 months of service delivery April – Sept 2018
Phase 2 Ongoing service delivery and participant outcomes Annual reports covering each full year of service delivery to March 2021
Phase 3 Long term outcomes and impact measures Final report on impacts up to 18 months after initial delivery ends (Sept 2022).

The Scottish Government will publish a series of reports on the evaluation findings, following the timeline in Figure 12 below.

Figure 12: Fair Start Scotland evaluation timeline

Figure 12: Fair Start Scotland evaluation timeline

Appendix 4: 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 (DWP). 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 [25] 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.

The Scottish Approach

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)[26] replaced the transitional arrangements from 3 April 2018. The service provides a tailored, flexible and person-centred support to people who want help to find work, and stay in work. This includes helping people who may be disadvantaged in the labour market such as disabled people, and those at risk of becoming long-term unemployed.

Eligibility and early entry groups

Through delivery of the FSS service, the Scottish Government is looking to support a minimum of 38,000 people over 3 years of referrals. These individuals 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.

How to access background or source data

The data collected for this social research publication:

☒ may be made available on request, subject to consideration of legal and ethical factors. Please contact Kirstie.Corbett@gov.scot for further information.


Email: kirstie.corbett@gov.scot

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