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.

2. Introduction

2.1 Purpose

This report presents an overview of findings from three different data sources:

  • Three local area case studies in Alloa, Irvine and Wick undertaken by Rocket Science UK Ltd and Blake Stevenson. These consider local FSS delivery and outcomes from the perspective of all those involved in providing and participating in services: FSS service providers; delivery partners (JCP); local support organisations and partners and FSS participants.
  • A representative telephone survey of 1,005 FSS participants by IFF Research Ltd, including those who had started on the service between April and December 2018. Questions focused on peoples motivation to engage, attitudes to work, experiences of support to date and progress towards / into work.
  • Analysis of FSS service provider management information on the demographic and background characteristics of FSS participants in the first year of delivery (April 2018 – March 2019).

Further information about the evaluation methods used to gather the findings reported here can be found in Appendix 1.

Full details of the findings from the local area case studies, and the participant telephone survey are published in two separate reports on the Scottish Government website alongside this overview report.

2.2 Background

Fair Start Scotland (FSS) is Scotland’s first fully devolved employment support service. The Scottish Government took on employability powers in 2017 and exercised those powers through transitional services Work First Scotland and Work Able Scotland. The learning from those services and the overriding principles of dignity and respect were taken forward in FSS.

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 FSS, with provision to be delivered by a mixed economy of public, private and third sector suppliers, in nine contract areas (Lots) across Scotland. See Appendix 2 for more detailed information on the FSS service providers and contract areas.

Launched on 3 April 2018, FSS aims to support a minimum of 38,000 people into work, including those facing barriers to entering the labour market. The key focus for the service is to provide tailored and personalised support for all those who participate.

Key elements of the service are:

  • Participation is entirely voluntary;
  • All participants can expect to receive in-depth action planning to ensure the support they receive is tailored for them and suits their individual needs and circumstances;
  • The service will offer pre-work support of 12-18 months;
  • The service will offer high quality in-work support for up to 12 months;
  • Those who require specialist support to help them find work can expect to receive it;
  • There will be national standards to ensure everyone receives a consistent quality of support across the nine geographic contract areas.

The service delivery model is based on evidence of what works in employability support and was developed in consultation with delivery partners, employability providers and the Scottish public[3].

Scottish Ministers have committed to a “test and learn” approach to the long-term development and continuous improvement of devolved employability services and both the FSS service design and evaluation reflect this approach. The FSS evaluation plan will report annually on the process, outcomes and impact of service delivery, capturing the experiences of all those involved in FSS delivery and participation.

The first FSS evaluation report[4] was published in June 2019, and covered FSS implementation and early delivery in the first six months of services (to September 2018). The key findings show evidence of:

  • genuine partnerships established by key players across Lots;
  • recognition by service providers and JCP/DWP staff of the benefits of a person-centred service model that treats participants with dignity and respect;
  • participants seeing FSS as a way to move towards lasting and meaningful employment, and valuing the personalised and wide ranging support available to deal with issues at their own pace;
  • the benefits of a wholly voluntary service for participants, service providers and delivery partners;
  • recognition of the challenge involved in estimating the flow of referrals and starts to a voluntary service; and
  • the importance of reaching and engaging with all eligible participants, particularly those from Minority Ethnic (ME) communities.

For further information on the overall FSS evaluation plan, see Appendix 3.


Email: kirstie.corbett@gov.scot

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