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.

3 Fair Start Scotland in Dundee

This chapter outlines the key features of FSS in Dundee. This chapter covers:

  • A description of Dundee area more generally, including the socio-economic context and labour market
  • Analysis of the FSS management and performance data for Dundee
  • A description of the delivery of FSS in Dundee
  • Key lessons we can draw from this case study area.

Area profile

This section provides information about the socioeconomic context and labour market in Dundee City, focusing on levels of deprivation, unemployment and skills and education. It also provides descriptions of local-level efforts to increase employability and to revitalise the local economy, as well as common barriers to employment within the area. The mid-2019 population estimate of Dundee City was 149,320.[64]

According to the 2020 Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation, Dundee City has one of the highest levels of deprivation in Scotland

The 2020 SIMD indicated that Dundee City had the 5th largest local share of deprived areas in Scotland with more than a third of data zones (38%) among the 20% most deprived in Scotland.[65] Linlathen and Mid Craigie is the most deprived area in Dundee City and is the 7th most deprived area in Scotland overall.[66] Further, Dundee City has the second highest rate of child poverty in Scotland with over 31% of children living in relative poverty, after housing costs.[67]

Figure 2: Levels of deprivation in Dundee City, colour coded according to the Scottish index of Multiple Deprivation deciles. The north east, central and west areas of the city are in the most deprived decile
A close up of a map. The north east, central and west areas of the city are in the most deprived decile.

[Source: Scottish index of Multiple Deprivation 2020: Dundee City]

There is a higher proportion of residents in Dundee who are unemployed or living in workless households compared with Scotland overall

The rate of unemployment is significantly higher in Dundee City (5.4%) than in Scotland (3.5%) and in Great Britain (3.9%).[68] More males are unemployed than females (with 6.3% of males being unemployed compared with 5% of females).[69] In 2018, a quarter of households in the area were workless (13,100 households or 25.2% of all households). This is significantly higher than the percentage of households that are workless in either Scotland (17.1%) or Great Britain (14.3%).

In March 2020, 4.5% of people in Dundee City (4,455 people) claimed out-of-work benefits.[70] This is higher than the rate of claimants in Scotland overall (3.3%) and Great Britain (3.1%). The claimant rate was highest amongst those aged 18 to 24 (5.3%), followed by those aged 25 to 49 (4.8%) and those aged 50+ (3.7%).[71]

While the unemployment rate amongst males and females is similar (6.3% for males compared to 5% for females), males are twice as likely to claim benefits than females (6.1% compared with 3%).[72] There is a significant gender pay gap in Dundee City, with males earning £59.50 more on average per week than their female counterparts.[73]

There is a relatively high job density in Dundee City, however, rates of economic activity amongst the population are lower than Scotland overall

Dundee City has a working age population of 71,000.[74] The area has a job density of 0.84 compared with 0.82 in Scotland and 0.86 Great Britain.[75] There were 75,000 estimated employee jobs in Dundee City in 2018.[76] 65.3% of these were full-time and 34.7% were part-time.[77] From 2009 to 2019, total employment in the area hardly changed, compared with a Scottish increase of 1% over the same period.[78]

72.8% of those aged 16-64 were economically active in 2019.[79] This is a lower rate than Scotland and Great Britain overall (77.5% and 78.9% respectively).[80] The rate of females who are economically active (70.5%) is lower than that for males (75.2%). Dundee City also has a lower employment rate (68.6%) than in Scotland (74.8%) and Great Britain (75.8%).[81] 14% of the working age population are classified as employment deprived within SIMD income domain, compared with 10.6% of the working age population in Scotland overall.[82] 16.3% of the population in Dundee City are income deprived within an SIMD income domain, compared with 12.1% of the population in Scotland.[83] 23.1% of children are in low income families (compared with 16.7% of children in Scotland overall).[84]

The biggest employment sector in Dundee City is human health and social work activities, providing 21.3% of employee jobs in the area.[85] Dundee has in Ninewells, a major regional hospital complex with substantial related research activities. This is followed by wholesale and retail trade and repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles (14.7%), accommodation and food service activities (10.7%) and education (10.7%).[86] It is predicted that human health and social work, wholesale and retail, and education will be the top 3 employing sectors in 2029.[87]

The largest forecast employment growth from 2019 to 2029 is in administration and support services (17%), professional scientific and technical (15%), and construction (13%).[88] The largest forecast employment decreases are in manufacturing (-25%), electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning (-10%), and water supply sewerage and waste (-8%).[89]

From 2019 to 2029, it is forecast that there will be 32,800 people needed to fill job openings in Dundee City.[90] 30,400 of these jobs will be created through replacement demand and 2,500 will be due to expansion demand.[91]

On average, residents in Dundee City have similar levels of qualifications and skills to those of Scotland as a whole

The population in Dundee City has a similar proportion of people with the highest level of education (NVQ4 and above) to that of the national level in Scotland (44.9% compared with 45.3%). It has a smaller proportion of people who have no qualification than in Scotland overall (7.9% compared with 9.8%).

42% of jobs in Dundee City in 2019 were higher level occupations, 29% were mid-level occupations and 29% were lower level.[92] The occupational structure of jobs are forecast to be similar in 2029 to levels in 2029: 43% are forecast to be higher level occupations, 24% mid-level jobs and 33% are predicted to be lower level occupations.[93]

There are a number of local employability services and centres in Dundee City which provide support for residents

In 2016 the Dundee Partnership approved an ambitious strategy to move towards a high performance single employability service for the City. This led to the creation of the Discover Work Service, the city-wide employability service which aims to present a single door approach for Dundee's wide range of employability support. The Discover Work Service is overseen by an Executive Group made up of Dundee City Council, the Dundee Third Sector Interface, Skills Development Scotland, Dundee and Angus College, DWP, NHS Tayside and Remploy Scotland. It supports job seekers and employers in Dundee and provides training and tailored support in order to help people overcome barriers such as health, debt, welfare, childcare and convictions so that they can move into work. Discover Work can also arrange work placements and volunteering opportunities.[94] Behind the Discover Work brand are two Dundee City Council services as well as a wide range of other services:

  • Employment Unit, Dundee City Council, provides employability support to those aged over 16 years and face barriers to entering employment e.g. health or disability, single parents, problematic drug use. Individuals are supported through job clubs, work experience placements and ongoing support.[95]
  • Youth employability service, Dundee City Council, supports young people aged 16-24 living in Dundee into employment, apprenticeships or training courses through the help of a key worker. The service also advertises job vacancies on their various platforms and offers support through the application.[96]

There have been sustained efforts to incorporate employability approaches in multi-service centres in the most deprived neighbourhoods in Dundee, providing early support on the employability journey close to client's homes.

In addition, Dundee City Council has led a number of major partnership initiatives and strategies to improve employment opportunities in the surrounding area, some of which include:

  • Tay Cities Deal aims to invest £1.83 billion to directly benefit 500,000 residents and 15,5000 business in the region with the aim to create 15,000 job opportunities over 10 years[97]
  • City Plan for Dundee 2017-2026 aims to help 4,700 people living in the region into jobs over a 10-year period.[98]

What this means for FSS in Dundee

Dundee is a compact city with long standing issues around unemployment, earnings and poverty. There has been a substantial long-standing infrastructure of support with strong leadership from Dundee City Council, and significant attraction of ESF and ERDF funding to run substantial employability programmes.

The review of employability support in 2015/16 identified the need to work towards a coherent 'employability service' in Dundee, and this remains the aspiration of the Dundee Partnership. Despite the scale of the partnership effort, FSS is a significant presence, with the opportunity to work in a complementary way to tackle problems which exist at a significant scale. The Discover Work Partnership provides a forum for discussion around how FSS can complement and supplement other local services. A review of the employability strategy and a concerted effort to restart progress towards a high performance employability service for Dundee has just been launched, so this Case Study is particularly timely in informing the LEP's thinking about the way forward as it maps its route through the stages of NOLB.

Management and Performance Data for Dundee

The infographic overleaf draws on the management and performance data collected between April 2019 and March 2020. It covers all FSS participants who were registered with the Dundee City Jobcentre (i.e. those who were enrolled on the service) which supports participants from across the Dundee area.

682 individuals participated in 2019/ 20

  • 66% Male
  • 34% Female
  • 77% With disability or health condition
  • 49% < 35 years
  • 27% 35-49
  • 24% 50+
  • 21% Sustained work for 13 weeks
  • 21% of Men
  • 22% of Women
  • 22% of those with disability or health condition
  • 18% of those without
  • 13% of participants enrolled on the programme sustained work for 26 weeks

Description of service

Dundee is in the Tayside contract area, together with Perth and Kinross and Angus local authority areas. The Lead Provider in Dundee is Remploy. Their supply chain originally included Rathbone but they withdrew in 2019, with all their staff being TUPE'd across to Remploy who are now the direct provider of all FSS support.

Remploy have a dedicated manager for the FSS service in Dundee. The service is based in the Nethergate Centre in Dundee. The office is in the centre of Dundee and is a 10 minute walk from the Jobcentre in Wellgate House (in the Wellgate shopping centre), with good access to bus routes. There are 2 offices next door to each other as they have expanded from the original office. The main office is open plan with partitions for private conversations. The second office is made up of 3 separate rooms for development sessions or confidential one to one discussions. The offices are busy with a regular flow of clients visiting.

Remploy has 11 full time key workers in Dundee:

"They come from really varied backgrounds - only 1 or 2 have employability backgrounds - we look for personality, and how they fit into the team and will relate to people with barriers. So they may have been working in sales or be ex nurses, ex forces, in recruitment, or mental health support staff." - FSS provider

From the start of the contract, most referrals have come from TPOs, and it was stated that those referred from TPOs have a higher conversion into jobs and sustainability than those referred from JCP. The high proportion of TPO referrals may be related to the longstanding presence of Remploy in Dundee and its well established network of contacts.

There was also thought to be a higher sustainability of outcomes by those referred by TPOs, and this was considered to be because these third parties may have had a better awareness of those clients who need and could benefit from the FSS service - in other words they are better at referring appropriate participants who can benefit from the service.

Strengthening the relationships with Jobcentre Plus

Partly in response to the low referral rates from JCP, a Remploy key worker is now present twice a week in the Jobcentre to meet new recruits (after referral). There are 60 work coaches in the Jobcentre and it has been seen as important to invest regular time to help them all understand FSS as, with staff turnover, not all of them will be familiar with FSS. The awareness of work coaches is felt by the FSS provider to have improved in the last 6 months (to May 2020). This effort was driven by a particular concern about the scale of those referred who are not appropriate or don't turn up:

"50% of referrals in Dundee are not appropriate or don't turn up. It's worse in Dundee - better conversion in Perth and particularly Angus where we meet participants in the Jobcentre and can have a warm handover. We haven't got to this place yet in Dundee. This would transform the conversion rate. Our place in the Jobcentre is not about warm handovers, just about picking up as people come through." - FSS provider

"JCP may have thought that FSS is like Work Choice - in other words, it is not a provision that can help a wide range of participants." - FSS provider

In addition, Remploy has a table set up in the Jobcentre and work coaches can send potential participants over for an initial discussion about the FSS service and its suitability. If the key worker thinks they are suitable they book them into welcome session at the Remploy office. These welcome sessions take place 3 times a week and include referrals from Jobcentre Plus and TPOs as well as self-referrals. This is a refinement of the previous approach:

"Before, Jobcentre was sending people over who may not be suitable -they were telling people to come along - many did not realise FSS was voluntary and they thought if they didn't come they would be sanctioned - a lot used to get up and leave when they realised it was voluntary." - FSS provider

Although Remploy still get referrals from Jobcentre work coaches who they haven't met, there is agreement by provider staff that they are now building a better relationship with Jobcentre work coaches and most of the work coaches now have a better understanding of FSS and who is it appropriate for.

The number of unsuitable referrals is now considered by staff to be very low.

"There are still one or two not suitable - for example, if someone has been out of work for 20 years and don't want to do voluntary work or look at placements." - FSS provider

Managing and referring the FSS caseload

The key workers each manage a caseload - this will consist of regular contact and placing participants onto in house development sessions for between 6-8 people which cover key skills and issues. These cover topics such as:

  • Barriers to employment and how to deal with these
  • Confidence and motivation
  • CV and job search

There are some participants who don't want to join a group setting in which case these will be covered in one to one sessions.

"In the main a lot of our support is reassurance calls - sometimes we need to provide face to face help with mental health or safeguarding - but it is mainly phone calls checking that they are ok - and if they have lost their job." - FSS provider

For those who fall out of employment after their successful placement there is a rapid response system to help them get back into work in the balance of time - this is the focus of one key worker.

Remploy has a structured way of building its network of partners, through their Transforming Lives Community - this applies across all their contracts in Scotland and it is a national community. The concept is to build a group of partners who can support the participant and will share Remploy's values. When organisations join they go through due diligence process to ensure that they are safe to refer to - covering each of the barriers that participants may face - for example, mental health, money and benefits advice, energy poverty, skills development and adult learning.

Local authorities do not need to go through the due diligence process and Remploy try to work closely with Dundee City Council in terms of housing advice and money advice.

The TLC is an actively managed network and members can take part in an annual Scottish forum for all TLC members. There is an intention to complement this with more local forums including one for Tayside TLC members.

Of their different regional networks Remploy consider Dundee their strongest, because of their previous contracts to deliver Work Choice and Work First (when they started to attend the Local Employability Forum).

"Being in Dundee before FSS helped us - there are a lot of key partners who have worked with over the years - SDS is quite big for us, but also The Helm, and DEAP Ltd." - FSS provider

The range of local provision is considered to be very comprehensive with no obvious gaps:

"There is a lot of free provision and some paid provision. We will pay as and when we need to, but 90% of the provision [we use for FSS participants] is provided free." - FSS provider

Remploy get most of their referrals from TPOs. There has been a noticeable increase in the referrals from JCP in the last 6 months:

"It was supposed to be 80% JCP, but across Tayside we have been getting 60% from TPOs and 40% from JCP. Dundee is the largest Jobcentre but we get the smallest number of referrals from it. We have worked with the Scottish Government on this." - FSS provider

Remploy work closely with a range of local services - the main ones being Penumbra, with FSS participants regularly using their 6 week Ready Steady Work course for those with mental health issues (this is paid through FSS funding). Dundee was part of the Health and Work Support (HWS) Pilot funded by the (then) Work and Health Unit within the DWP and the Scottish Government. HWS staff have been into Remploy to present the service and FSS staff In terms of the HWS service, Remploy staff advised us that there was an issue about double funding (because of ESF funding) but towards the end of the HWS pilot there was an agreement that FSS participants who were in work could use the service.

"We have used the [HWS] service quite a lot - really impressed by it." - FSS provider

Remploy have used SALUS but they have found that the service they were getting from key workers was similar, so they have stopped using SALUS. FSS participants are also referred to Dundee Money Action for help with debt issues, and local food banks.

Remploy see the positioning of FSS in the local employability landscape as:

"Providing a person-centred approach, tailored to individual needs, with a key worker who gives one-to-one support throughout the journey - supported by employer routeways." - FSS provider

They emphasise the value of the TLC approach in terms of tackling a wide range of barriers, and the value of the internal development courses for participants.

Relating to the wider infrastructure of support

In terms of the wider landscape of employability support and the way that FSS fits into and complements this, Dundee has a dense and varied collection of local support services, reflecting its history of high long-term unemployment.

There is an active LEP which includes Remploy. In 2015 the LEP took forward a 12 month process to review and refine its employability strategy, with a focus on transforming performance and creating a clear and coherent 'Dundee Employability Service' for both individuals and employers (the partners are about to review this strategy). The resulting action plan was co-designed by all the key partners and led to a clarification of respective roles and to Dundee City Council's own procurement approach, with funds being used to implement the LEP strategy and with a focus on complementarity and reducing duplication.

Remploy used to work closely with Dundee City Council (e.g. on the Fairy Job Mother programme for 16-24 year olds), but this relationship has come to an end because of the issues around European Social Fund and the risk of duplicate spend.

"We used to work closely with the Council, but double funding prevented this and it feels like we are in competition. We may get a referral and they then start on a Council programme and then we have to try to work out who gets the credit." - FSS provider

"We don't have very much to do with FSS - we run our programmes and they run their programme - we may compete with clients but it is hard to get a sense of the scale of this." - Local Authority

However, there is a general agreement that there are 'more than enough clients to go round', and there have been concerted joint efforts to forge a complementary role for FSS:

"It feels less competitive that it could be. We tried to come up with ways of integrating our services and felt there were ways to do this, but we couldn't get agreement with the Scottish Government. We thought carefully about ESF and cut off points (e.g. clients could do some work on the pipeline and then leave to go onto FSS), so we aimed to complement FSS in terms of childcare funding, financial inclusion etc. We could then hand over clients to FSS and vice versa." - Local Authority

This work does appear to have got somewhere in terms of local operation agreements, and at a local management level there appear to be good relationships.

"…but when it comes to front line staff, they have personal targets and this is where the competition comes in." - Local Authority

But despite this, we did hear about examples of the cross referral of clients when it was apparent that another service was the most appropriate.

There are strong similarities between FSS and some of Dundee City Council funded services, though the latter are more closely targeted at particular areas and client groups. However, we heard about clients who were confused about what service they were receiving from whom, and what they had received in the past.

There is a clear mutual respect between the managers of the different services on the ground about the design of their respective services and the quality of support they both offer to clients.

This kind of relationship applies to employer engagement as well:

"They keep their employers and we keep ours. When we talk to employers they say the landscape is confusing and they do get calls about services from different providers. Employers pick and choose who they want to work with - drawing on their personal connections and prior experience." - Local Authority

"We have a gentleman's agreement with our 6 providers - we are only a support service - the other partners will contact us and we will see if it is already done. This works really well. We tried to do this with Remploy but they said all their market is client targeted (i.e. we target employers according to the needs and abilities of the client)." - Local Authority

Overall, referrals rates are been good in Dundee, and Remploy have consistently achieved their referral targets.

Again, reflecting their long presence in Dundee, Remploy have a wide range of established employer contacts in Dundee. Many of these were with manufacturers but significant numbers of their jobs have disappeared recently with the closure of the NCR manufacturing base and more recently Michelin with their well-paid, relatively highly skilled jobs. The main profile of the employer engagement effort by Remploy is in manufacturing, production, and call centres (e.g. with the BT and Tesco call centres). There are also relationships with Social Security Scotland - which with 750 employees will be one of the larger employers in Dundee - and Balfour Beattie in terms of employment on the dualling of the A9.

The impact of Covid-19

The lockdown period saw a stop to referrals from JCP as they focused on Universal Credit registrations. In Dundee this has seen a focus by the FSS provider on the use of social media to attract participants - and notably the use of Facebook. This has proven to be a notable success, providing a steady flow of clients from a range of backgrounds and facing different issues. Remploy are now also starting to receive referrals for newly redundant participants.

"The Scottish Government have opened up eligibility and we can help anyone - but most of time they have barriers anyway: mental health issues, anxiety and depression, or debt." - FSS provider

From a situation where the main source of FSS referrals was from TPOs, and with a growing proportion of referrals from JCP, the majority of referrals are now self-referrals through social media. Most of these come from the Remploy Facebook pages. Last month (May 2020) there were 60 new inquiries (across the whole of the Tayside contract area) from Facebook and also from the local newsletter which goes to partners in Tayside.

"People are now sitting in front of social media - some share the page once the post is on - they might share it on groups, key workers will share and others will link etc." - FSS provider

Lessons from this case study

FSS and the wider services have found a way to live together - but it is not ideal

There have been concerted efforts to find a way to create some clarity about respective roles and relationships between FSS and other local employability services, but it has not been possible to confirm these - mainly because of ESF related issues. There is a clear mutual appreciation of the respective value of these programmes and services and the risk of competition has been reduced by the scale of the problem in Dundee.

Some clients remain confused about the service they are receiving

Despite increasing clarity about the nature and content of FSS there are still clients who are confused about what programme / service they are on, and the role and status of their provider. This appears to be particularly true in Dundee because of the wide range of support available, with much of it looking similar. Part of this is down to the success of developing design principles around FSS that respond to extensive findings about best practice - it is hard for local partners to develop programmes that don't match some of the key features of FSS.

Balance of time remains an issue

There is concern about the fact that, when participants complete FSS, they are not able to return: in other words, if they don't leave for training or a job or if they disengage after a few months. The option to 'freeze' participants on the service is available, but if they disengage or want to leave service this does not apply, even though they may want to re-join later.

Particularly in the light of the disruption created by Covid-19 in terms of caring responsibilities and job insecurities it may be worth reviewing this aspect of the service design.

There have been important lessons from the lockdown period in terms of marketing

The active use of social media during the lockdown period has proved successful, and at the time of our interviews was the source of most new clients. This has significant implications for the focus of the marketing effort post lockdown, partly because of the learning involved in making it work, but also in the finding that it seems to be reaching clients who were not being reached by the previous engagement with JCP and TPOs.


Email: socialresearch@gov.scot

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