Fair Start Scotland - evaluation report 3: local area case studies - year 2

Part of the Fair Start Scotland series of evaluation reports which presents detailed findings from the second wave of local area case studies in in Dundee, Fraserburgh and Peterhead, and Drumchapel, in north Glasgow, and includes feedback from FSS service providers, participants, and local delivery partners.

1 Introduction and Context

The Scottish Government commissioned Rocket Science UK Ltd, in partnership with Blake Stevenson and the Institute for Employment Studies, to complete a three-year evaluation of FSS. This evaluation will be centred around nine case studies of localities within each of the nine contract areas. In the first-year report we focused on the first three of these in-depth explorations - covering Alloa (Forth Valley), Irvine (South West) and Wick (Highlands and Islands). This year we focus on Drumchapel (Glasgow), Dundee (Tayside) and Peterhead and Fraserburgh (North East).

Through these case studies this evaluation seeks to:

  • Understand how FSS is being implemented across the different lot areas in Scotland
  • Understand the experience of FSS for lead providers, partner organisations, participants and employers
  • Identify what is working well and less well in the implementation of FSS
  • Identify the lessons learned and recommend changes to consider for the remainder of the FSS contract period as well as shaping what the next iteration of employment support in Scotland might look like

We focused on the period up to the end of February to capture the pre-Covid performance of FSS, but we did explore the initial impact of Covid-19 on the service and its participants. Our Year 3 evaluation will have a distinctly different focus in the light of the impact of Covid-19, and the locality case studies will be selected in the contract areas of Lanarkshire, East and West.

This report is structured as follows:

  • A detailed look at each of the three localities including the socio-economic context, the management and performance data, the core features of the service in that locality and the lessons that can be learned from delivery in that locality
  • Analysis of the views of participants and non-participants interviewed in each of the localities
  • Key findings and conclusions that draw together lessons and implications from each of the case study localities

FSS builds on the Scottish Government ambition and strategic direction to move Scotland towards a more integrated and aligned employability landscape that is better able to support those with a complex array of needs, infused with principles around fair work, respect and dignity. FSS offers significant scope for learning around:

  • The local flexing of a national service to local needs and conditions
  • How it can complement and support other local provision
  • How its governance and performance can be more locally 'owned', so driving service quality and outcomes
  • How to better integrate employability support with more specialist support which can include health and housing

The programme of participant and stakeholder research that makes up this evaluation has been designed to make a contribution to the achievement of this vision. In this second year report we have:

  • Drawn out the lessons that FSS offers to date in terms of the changes that we have identified from our Year 1
  • Identified the outstanding issues and challenges that exist around the approach
  • Described the impact and implications of Covid-19 and what this may mean for the design and delivery of a national employment service over the next 12 months

This year 2 evaluation report is underpinned by the following methodology, and involved telephone interviews with people in each locality between May and July 2020. The timing of these interviews is earlier than the fieldwork period in 2019 as the work was brought forward to ensure we would be able to talk about the pre-Covid-19 period up to the beginning of March 2020. Because of the impact of Covid-19 on Jobcentre services, we did not speak to Jobcentre staff, so their views are not reflected in these findings. In addition, some other organisations that would have had useful insights were not available to speak to during the reporting timescales because of the demands that the impact of Covid-19 has placed on them - this also included employers, and we were not able to talk to a representative sample of employers in any of our focus areas.

Our work does cover the impact of Covid-19 but the main focus is on the way in which FSS was delivered in the three areas up to March 2020:

Evaluation activity:

  • Desk-based analysis of socio-economic and employment trends in each locality
  • Analysis of the management and performance data of FSS in each locality
  • Interviews with participants and their FSS key workers in each locality
  • Follow up interviews with participants who we initially interviewed in our Year 1 localities, to provide insights into the longer term impact of the experience of FSS
  • Interviews with FSS service staff including lead providers, and their partners and supply chain
  • Interviews with other relevant stakeholders in the area


Email: socialresearch@gov.scot

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