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.

4 Fair Start Scotland in Peterhead and Fraserburgh

This chapter outlines the key features of FSS in Peterhead and Fraserburgh. This chapter covers:

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

Area profile

This section provides information about the labour market and socioeconomic trends in Peterhead and Fraserburgh, focusing on levels of deprivation, unemployment and skills, and education. It also provides descriptions of local efforts to increase employability and encourage economic growth in the two areas. In 2018, the population of Peterhead was 19,270 and of Fraserburgh 13,180.[99]

The most deprived areas in Aberdeenshire are concentrated in Peterhead and Fraserburgh where there are high levels of child poverty

The 2020 Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) identified that Fraserburgh and Peterhead have areas which are in the top 10% and 20% most deprived in Scotland.[100] While Aberdeenshire overall contains a large portion of the 20% least deprived areas in Scotland, the most deprived areas in the region are concentrated in Banff and Buchan, primarily in Peterhead and Fraserburgh.[101]

In 2018, Fraserburgh and District had the highest rate of child poverty in Aberdeenshire (20.9%). Peterhead and North and Rattray was third highest at 19.1%.[102] These rates are higher than the rate of child poverty in Aberdeenshire (12.6%) and Scotland as a whole.[103] Single parent households made up 6% of all households in both towns according to the 2011 census.[104] The 2019 average household income in Peterhead (£27,071) and Fraserburgh (£26,093) are below the Scottish (£29,832) and UK (31,979) average.[105]

Figure 3: Deprivation levels in Fraserburgh, colour coded according to the Scottish index of Multiple Deprivation deciles. The north and west areas of the town are in the most deprived decile
A close up of a map. The north and west areas of the town are in the most deprived decile.

[Source: Scottish index of Multiple Deprivation 2020: Fraserburgh]

Figure 4: Deprivation levels in Peterhead, colour coded according to the Scottish index of Multiple Deprivation deciles. The eastern areas of the town are in the most deprived decile
A close up of a map. The eastern areas of the town are in the most deprived decile.

[Source: Scottish index of Multiple Deprivation 2020: Peterhead]

Residents in Peterhead and Fraserburgh have lower levels of health and education compared to residents in Aberdeenshire on average

High levels of deprivation in Fraserburgh and Peterhead are associated with poor health and education outcomes for residents. Compared to Aberdeenshire as a whole, residents of Peterhead are twice as likely to require an overnight stay in hospital for both alcohol and drug related incidents.[106] Rates of emergency admission to hospital are high in Fraserburgh, with significantly lower life expectancy for male and females, as well as high levels of problem alcohol and drug use especially amongst young people.[107]

A third of Aberdeenshire's data zones in the top 20% most educationally deprived are in Peterhead and Fraserburgh.[108] Many of those living in Peterhead (66%) live in the top 10% most educationally deprived areas in Aberdeenshire.[109] Both Fraserburgh and Peterhead have a smaller proportion of pupils achieving 5 awards at level 5 (S4); 3 awards at level 6 (S5) and 5 awards at level 6 (S6) than the 2018 Aberdeenshire average. Additionally, 7% of Peterhead's population aged 16-19 are not in education, employment or training (NEET) compared to the Aberdeenshire average (3%).[110]

There are high levels of unemployment as well as economic inactivity in Peterhead and Fraserburgh

Both Peterhead and Fraserburgh have a similar proportion of the population who are working age (64% and 63% respectively) to Aberdeenshire (62.2%) and Scotland overall (64.2%).[111] Nearly two-thirds of those who are working age in Peterhead (72%) and Fraserburgh (70%) are economically active.[112] This is significantly lower than the rate in Aberdeenshire overall (83%) and Scotland (77.5%).[113]

In the latest unemployment figures (November 2019), Fraserburgh travel to work area (TTWA) had 385 out of work claimants (aged 16+) compared to 650 in Peterhead TTWA.[114] Both Fraserburgh and Peterhead TTWA had a higher rate of claimants as a proportion of residents aged 16-64 than across Aberdeenshire (2.7% in both Fraserburgh and Peterhead compared with 1.8% across Aberdeenshire).[115] The majority of people who claim out of work benefits in Peterhead TTWA are male (3.3% compared with 2.2%).[116] 2.9% claimants in Fraserburgh TTWA are male compared with female claimants (2.2%).[117]

Both Fraserburgh and Peterhead have higher levels of economic inactivity than Scotland overall (30% and 28% respectively compared with 22.5%).[118] Both areas have a high proportion who are retired and a higher rate of those who are long-term sick or disabled compared with Aberdeenshire overall (6% and 4% respectively compared with 2%).[119]

The area of Banff and Buchan is largely rural, and its economy is mainly based on fishing and agriculture, and both Peterhead and Fraserburgh have a large fishing industry and make up much of the fish landed and fishers employed.[120] Fraserburgh employs the largest number of fishers (774; 16% of the total fishers employed in Scotland in 2018) and fishers who work regularly (647).[121] However, in Fraserburgh, the biggest industries are manufacturing, retail and health. [122] In Peterhead, the biggest industries are manufacturing, retail, and transport and storage (including postal services).[123]

Transport is a major issue for job seekers in both towns as car ownership is low and residents face barriers in accessing public transport including availability, costs and delays

Finding affordable and available transport is a major challenge for job seekers in Peterhead and Fraserburgh. The most common distance for commuters from Peterhead and Fraserburgh to travel to work is up to 5km (36.7% of those travelling to work in Fraserburgh compared to 35.4% in Peterhead).[124] Fraserburgh and Peterhead have the same proportion of commuters who commute within the wider Aberdeenshire area (65%).[125] 12% of commuters from Peterhead and 9% of commuters from Fraserburgh travel to Aberdeen City which has the largest labour market in Aberdeenshire.[126]

Both Peterhead and Fraserburgh are located in areas which are at the highest risk of transport poverty in Aberdeenshire.[127] Car ownership is low in both towns: 29.1% of residents in Fraserburgh and 28.7% of residents in Peterhead do not own a car.[128] Additionally, commuters from Peterhead and Fraserburgh face multiple barriers in accessing public transport to and from Aberdeen city including major bus delays, congestion on roads, poor waiting facilities and passenger capacity at Aberdeen station.[129] Further, there are no train stations in Peterhead or Fraserburgh.[130] The nearest train station to Peterhead is in Aberdeen (32.6 miles away).[131] This journey takes 50 minutes when driving and, by bus, takes around 2 hours. The distance between Fraserburgh and Aberdeen is 60km (37.5 miles) which takes over around 1 hour to drive and over 90 minutes by bus.[132]

The bus services from both Peterhead and Fraserburgh depart hourly during peak times and cost £3.30 for a day pass.[133] Additionally, there are park and ride services from both Fraserburgh and Peterhead to Aberdeen city centre.[134] These challenges in public transport also mean interchanging services between bus and train can be difficult for job seekers.

Aberdeenshire Council has in place a local regeneration strategy and a number of employment initiatives for people living in the area, with a particular emphasis on youth employment

Aberdeenshire Council's local regeneration strategy is aimed at four communities on the north coast focusing on Banff, Macduff, Fraserburgh and Peterhead.[135] This regeneration strategy has put in place development partnerships consisting of local business and community representatives for each of the four towns.[136] These partnerships have developed specific regeneration action plans (covering 2016-2021).[137] Additionally, the Council has introduced a variety of initiatives aimed at supporting residents into work:

  • Employment support team - the team is the Council's central point for employment support and aims to help anyone living in Aberdeenshire seeking employment or education. It offers support from a Key Worker and practical assistance. The assistance offered includes training courses; support finding affordable childcare and short-term financial assistance; financial advice; and information from partner agencies. The support team also coordinates the Aberdeenshire Employability Partnership.[138]
  • Job Club - Open to all ages, Aberdeenshire Council runs job clubs in both Peterhead and Fraserburgh as part of the Employment Support Team community sessions.[139]
  • Aberdeenshire Employability Partnership (EmploymentCONNECT) - this service uses the Scottish Government Employability Pipeline as a framework for a range of services and aims to provide the support and assistance to individuals at each stage to enter employment.[140]
  • Modern apprenticeships - Aberdeenshire Council offers apprenticeships to help start people's careers. The apprenticeships offer training, a formal qualification and payment in areas such as leisure, early years childcare and ICT.[141]
  • Employability Service - This is a confidential service aimed at supporting people with disabilities and health related condition to find paid employment, experience, voluntary work and training. The service offers practical support helping individuals find employment through help with CVs and job searching as well as in-work support e.g. advice on rights at work and career progression. The service also offers support for employers.[142] The Employability Service has a local focus in both Fraserburgh and Peterhead.
  • Aberdeenshire Youth Employment Activity Plan - setting out opportunities for young people who are 16+ and are furthest from learning in a 5-stage employability pipeline. It outlines a number of charities and programmes that will give in-depth support to help young people issues and overcome barriers to employment. It also offers support for after young people find a job.[143]
  • Young people - The Council has a work placement unit to ensure there are adequate placement opportunities for pupils and young people. The unit provides information on types of placements, health and safety checks on employers taking part, and lists opportunities and case studies for those searching for opportunities.[144]

What this means for FSS in Peterhead and Fraserburgh

Both towns have relatively high unemployment and are relatively remote within North East Scotland, with public transport to the much larger employment centre of Aberdeen being expensive and irregular. As a result, for many, local jobs provide the only opportunity, but this opportunity is constrained by the limited number of local jobs. In this context FSS is potentially a significant addition to the landscape of support, with the scope to help those further from work to pursue well supported journeys to the opportunities that do exist, and to use entry level opportunities as the basis for subsequent progression through in work support.

Management and Performance Data for Peterhead and Fraserburgh

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 Peterhead and Fraserburgh Jobcentres (i.e. those who were enrolled on the service) which supports participants from across the Buchan area.

193 individuals participated in 2019/ 20

  • 61% Male
  • 39% Female
  • 78% With disability or health condition
  • 52% < 35 years
  • 13% 35-49
  • 27% 50+
  • 10% Sustained work for 13 weeks
  • 8% of Men
  • 12% of Women
  • 9% of those with disability or health condition
  • 11% of those without
  • 5.7% of participants enrolled on the programme sustained work for 26 weeks

Description of service

Peterhead and Fraserburgh are in the NE corner of the North East contract area. The North East contract is now held by FedCap, but at the time of our interviews in May - July 2020 it was held by Momentum, with four delivery partners - Momentum itself (with a 65% share of the outcomes), Aberdeen Foyer (15%), Enable (15%), and Enterprise Mentoring (5%).

These partners work as a team across the area, sharing referrals, premises, vacancies and courses. There are weekly calls between delivery partners, monthly face to face reviews and quarterly continuous improvement meetings.

The presence of Enterprise Mentoring means that there is a specific provider focusing on support to help people move into self-employment or start a business - this is one of two FSS contract areas where Enterprise Mentoring are part of the supply chain (the other being West).

All these providers had an existing presence in the area, delivering a range of services and contracts, so they are a known presence, bringing personal networks and local knowledge with them to FSS.

All these delivery partners have access to same pool of clients and they share information about events. There are some meetings to share good practice and learning, for example about generating and getting appropriate referrals and how to claim outcomes at 13 and 26 weeks.

"There is healthy competition between us, but we try and share and learn together." - FSS provider

"Momentum run different courses, but we work together as one team - so if Momentum had a Mental Health course they would say to us, 'Is there anyone you want to send?'. Ditto Aberdeen Foyer. We all offer and support each other. We are one team and always have each other's back (for example our Key Worker in Fraserburgh helped another team get their outcomes one month)." - FSS Provider

All referrals from Jobcentre are directed to a central hub in Glasgow where they allocate 65% to Momentum and spread the rest across the other providers. If a client wants to become self-employed they will be diverted straight to Enterprise Mentoring.

"But this is all about relationships, and we are lucky in terms of our relationships with Jobcentre Work Coaches who can say, 'I want this person to go to Momentum'." - FSS provider

Although the different FSS providers described ways in which they were working together for the benefit of FSS clients, there is a clear sense that the arrangements in place at the time of our interviews were not ideal, and that referrals being made to a Glasgow hub and back out again is neither efficient nor client centred. A preferred model would be for Work Coaches to be able to make referrals directly to FSS staff on the ground, and/or for participants to be given the choice if they have pre-existing relationships or have been recommended a particular person, and warm handovers can happen to respond to this particular preference. Momentum's other programme in the area, Pathways, has provided a valuable internal referral process for those coming to the end of their Pathways experience.

Self-referrals will go to the organisation that participants approach (e.g. to Momentum if they approach the Job Coach in Peterhead library), but there is still a need for the details to go through Glasgow to have them entered onto the administrative systems.

FSS in Peterhead and Fraserburgh is delivered from the community hubs in the two Jobcentres and from the Libraries in the two communities. These community hubs follow the widespread Jobcentre model - they are place where a range of community organisations can meet clients, including FSS.

Momentum has one Job Coach covering Aberdeenshire, and she spends 1 day a week in each of Peterhead and Fraserburgh. She spends a morning in Peterhead Library (a short walk from the Jobcentre) and 2 hours every other week in Peterhead Jobcentre (Work Coaches book up her diary). In Fraserburgh she spends a morning in the Jobcentre delivering the Health Model and this is followed by 30 minutes of FSS appointments - following this she works from Fraserburgh Library in the afternoon.

During these visits the Momentum Job Coach works with the local member of staff from Enable.

"I work with Enable on a Tuesday in Fraserburgh and a Wednesday in Peterhead. We talk to each other and support each other, but in essence we are in competition." - FSS provider

Since her appointment to focus on Aberdeenshire in October 2019 there has been an emphasis on developing relationships with Jobcentre Work Coaches -relationships that had not been in place before.

"I am focused on the Jobcentre relationship so I haven't devoted much time to TPOs but when I do it will be through JCP and the TPOs involved in community hubs." - FSS provider

There has also been an effort to engage with local third sector organisations to attract referrals and to identify complementary sources of specialist support. They have been invited to given presentations to FSS participants and some now make referrals to FSS. As an example, there have been engagements with Home Energy Scotland to help vulnerable participants who were struggling to pay their bills - this has led to reciprocal referrals - and Instant Neighbour, who take people on work placements, now refer clients to Momentum.

The relationships between Momentum and Jobcentre Plus staff is close and most referrals come from JCP. Even during lockdown, most of the self-referrals through Facebook had heard of FSS from a Work Coach. Prior to formal referral by JCP to FSS, the Job Coach usually has a discussion with the potential participant at the Jobcentre:

"I brief them one to one at the community hub at each of the Jobcentres - 10 mins before formal referral. They want to know a bit more detail. The Work Coaches are confident they don't need to say much before I see them as I will go through everything - how long it is, what it involves." - FSS provider

Enable have a presence in Fraserburgh and Peterhead - these areas are covered by different key workers and Enable focuses mainly on clients who have learning difficulties or autism. We talked to the Key Worker who covers Fraserburgh, where he is based every Tuesday from 0800 - 1700/1730, mainly in the Library, but initially in the new Sports Centre which opens at 0800 and provides IT access and open spaces for confidential discussions. In the Library a small private room is available if needed and it is used roughly once a month.

The relationship with the Jobcentre is strong with regular calls from JCP Work Coaches asking for advice about suitability or checking up on a referred FSS participant. FSS often discuss the suitability of the service with a potential participant in the Jobcentre before referral is confirmed. A lot of work has been put into building the relationship with Jobcentre Work Coaches and 'Work Coaches have a pretty good sense now of what FSS can offer and who it could help'

"We get quite a mix - sometimes we get people not suitable for FSS - sometimes they are not quite ready - they need more support, and could not get a job in 12 months. For example, we had someone referred on bail and in a tricky place - difficult criminal charges and waiting to be sent down." - FSS provider

Once participation has been confirmed, there are regular appointments as part of FSS:

"Normally, appointments are 45-60 minutes, focusing on an update on a participant's week, looking at getting in the way of working, looking forward. Later on, we focus on tailoring CVs, making sure they are doing this, highlighting jobs we have found."

Fraserburgh Health Model and Pathways

There was a specific initial focus on working with the Jobcentre in Fraserburgh to run a 'Health Model' as a preparation for FSS (and Pathways, the other programme which Momentum is contracted to run in the area).

Momentum ran the Health Model in conjunction with Fraserburgh Jobcentre. An issue had been identified with people with mental health issues, and alcohol and drugs misuse, and this was a way of trying to encourage them to start looking forward. It was marketed by Fraserburgh Jobcentre and it focused on positive thinking and healthy lifestyles, with a participant led approach. The programme runs one day a week for 8 weeks in an allocated room in the Jobcentre. At the end of the programme participants are encouraged to proceed onto either FSS or Pathways, and it has proved to be a successful preparation for FSS and has helped to build up the Job Coach's caseload. Fraserburgh Jobcentre is keen to run the programme on an ongoing basis and there is an intention to start running the programme at Peterhead Jobcentre.

Partly because of the success of the Health Model, the Momentum Job Coach's current caseload (at June 2020) is 54 pre-employment and 18 in employment receiving in work support. Given the limited staff time available that it dedicated to Peterhead and Fraserburgh - as part of a role across a much wider area of dispersed communities, there was a clear sense from our interviews of a service that was stretched in terms of resources, with experienced and committed front line staff making it work through hard work and effective marketing and relationship building.

More generally, mental health is seen as a significant problem among FSS participants.

"We assumed that people would come on the service [FSS] and get a job in 12 months, but they have other issues. So I have used other specialist services. Some participants have gone on to Occupational Psychologist help. She used to travel up from Glasgow and we booked up FSS clients on one to one basis. One client had 8 sessions with her and is now working part time and is and one of our great success stories." - FSS provider

The value of FSS

The FSS front line staff we talked to were clear about the value of FSS for participants, but they recognised that this could vary by motivation and expectations, and a contrast was drawn with the expectation of clients from previous programmes, with the implication that there were higher expectations placed on clients by FSS, in terms of what they were expected to do between meetings:

"The value of FSS for the client depends on their motivation to find work - sometimes it is a box to tick to keep Jobcentre off their back. They like the face to face contact - they like been seen every week and being chased - they like to show you what they have done."

"Lots of clients are used to being spoon-fed - they get into the routine that someone will find them a job."

There was a clear appreciation of the significance of the in-work support and a recognition of its value in helping clients deal with initial teething issues and the transition from (often) a long period of unemployment and the demanding routines of work:

"The in work support is invaluable."

In particular, clients appeared to recognise the value of the dedicated time that they were offered, the accessibility of this, and the ability to build a working relationship with the same member of staff over time:

"Participants are hugely appreciative of the work done - Jobcentre don't have time any more, and they like the security of knowing I am there and it's still me."

There was also a recognition of the nature of the local area and its communities and inequality - which raised both issues around the suitability of a small number of referred clients, and the wider value of FSS for families:

"It's important to understand the areas and how poor people are here - it's a rich fishing community but there are £1m houses at one end and at the other end there are generations who haven't worked. It can sometimes feel we are wasting our time and their time with FSS - they probably should not have been referred - these are the ones that Jobcentre don't ring me about. One had pending court cases. I spent an hour going through the initial paperwork which felt like wasted time."

"There is a lot of poverty and deprivation particularly with the focus on fishing and oil. There is a lot of child poverty in these areas and if we can get to the parents and help them get them on a path to employment they can get out of poverty." - FSS providers

Relating to the wider infrastructure of support

There is a range of employability services available across Aberdeenshire and including Peterhead and Fraserburgh, including a comprehensive offer from Aberdeenshire Council. There is an active LEP, the Aberdeenshire Employability Partnership, chaired by Aberdeenshire Council, with 25 member organisations, including Momentum. The LEP is seen to have a key role in the implementation of No One Left Behind, ensuring strategic clarity about objectives and respective roles, and with Aberdeenshire using the LEP as the place to identify priorities and play out employability funding coming to the local authority.

This collaborative approach is branded as Employment CONNECT and it has a comprehensive website[145] which acts as a central clearing house for jobseekers, employers and (password protected) partners. FSS is not mentioned on the website, but Enable and Aberdeen Foyer are included as partners.

The Council has 6 key workers operating across the Shire, with two covering Peterhead and Fraserburgh areas and their hinterlands. In addition, there is an employability service for those with additional support needs, with a team of 20 attached to the Health and Social Care Partnership dealing with people with disabilities.

Both Aberdeenshire Council and Momentum share the view that the relationship between them is not good, with the Council concerned about the lack of data sharing, a lack of referrals of clients to Aberdeenshire Council services where these may be more appropriate, and 'hoovering up clients'. However, both organisations recognise that they each have good, committed people on the ground. There is also a mutual recognition that FSS and the other local programmes are well designed. There have been efforts to strengthen the relationship but these have not worked, and there is very little connection or communication between the two sets of staff on the ground and there has been no successful cross referral of clients between them.

The landscape of support in Aberdeenshire - and specifically in Peterhead and Fraserburgh - is therefore not coherent and Aberdeenshire Council and the FSS Provider have not been able to reach explicit agreement about how they can work together in a coherent way across the areas. An initial effort by the Council focused on an approach with the services offered by the Local Employability Partners feeding appropriate clients into FSS and acting as a 'safety net' for those falling out of FSS or reaching the end of the service without a positive outcome.

"There is not enough joint promotion of local support services. One of the biggest complaints is about participants is being passed from pillar to post no one getting to grips with it - there is no one central hub with rounded advisers who can spend time and help them." - FSS provider

"There are so many different organisations out there - Aberdeen Foyer, Employability Team for those with health issues, Enable, Barnardo's and Employability Fund training. In certain areas too many people are trying to get clients and people become very effective with their clients." - FSS Provider

The self-employment option

The provision of intensive support for those interested in self-employment is - with the West contract area - a distinctive feature of the North East contract area and FSS provision in Peterhead and Fraserburgh.

"There is very little encouragement to look at self-employment [as part of the FSS service]. Other providers are using Business Gateway. They do a good job but they are not able to address the holistic support needs that the FSS client group has." - FSS provider

To date, referrals and starts in the Northeast contract area have been under profile but the proportion of participants setting up as self-employed and sustaining this status is above expectations. The main issue has been the lack of compatibility with DWP's New Enterprise Allowance (NEA) provision:

"NEA offers £1,274 additional funding to individuals entering self-employment, but offers very little one-to-one mentoring support. What this means is that at present FSS participants miss out on financial support. As most FSS participants have limited access to funding, this can be a deciding factor." - FSS provider

Responding to a limited local job market

FSS staff recognise how limited the job market is in Peterhead and Fraserburgh.

"We are only 30 miles from Aberdeen but the culture is very different - lots of clients are not prepared to travel and this is a huge barrier, unless they want to work in fish factories or oil and gas. We are working on entry level jobs but most of the positions available are specialist. So the market is cleaners, retail, security." - FSS provider

"I've got a lot of 40-60 year old women who find it really hard - there are some admin jobs, some cleaning but there is a high turnover. Lots of jobs will go to the same families…[i.e. informal recruitment processes are significant and it can be difficult to break in]." - FSS Provider

"There are a lot of foreign nationals - they will come in and do the jobs - but local people won't because the jobs are not well enough paid - it is not realistic to expect them to take these jobs." - Other employability provider

The travel issues are significant. The bus journey from Peterhead to Aberdeen takes nearly 1 hour 10 minutes and from Fraserburgh to Aberdeen takes 1 hour 25 minutes. Many people will need to get two buses, and the availability during the day is limited and may not get them to Aberdeen for an early start (e.g. for cleaning or retail). Both these return bus trips cost £18.50.

"We get a lot who don't live in Fraserburgh - they live in St Combs, Sandhaven - transport is very difficult and it is hard for them to see me and to get work. We have a good relationship with the food processing place in Turriff - but there are no direct buses - it would take one bus to Macduff and another to Turriff so no one can get there before 10." - FSS provider

FSS staff try to get round the barrier by doing 'better off in work' calculations - assessing the impact of being off benefits and into paid work. But for most entry level jobs in Aberdeen, once travel costs are included most participants will not be better off.

Employer engagement is carried out by a member of the Lead Provider's staff, based in Glasgow and covering the whole of Scotland. In the Peterhead and Fraserburgh area the focus is both on large employers like Morrisons and Tesco for both retail and security staff, agencies (e.g. for agricultural work) and on a wide range of SMEs. There is a close working relationship between Momentum, Enable and Aberdeen Foyer with the sharing of opportunities between frontline staff.

For follow up calls when in work, the Employer Engagement lead will ring the employer and the local key worker will call the client.

The impact of Covid-19

Frontline staff delivering FSS and Aberdeenshire Council's services talked of the scale and scope of the impact of Covid-19 on their clients.

"In the first 6 weeks the impact was massive - a lot of participants were shocked and quite scared. Some don't have internet access - so the day they saw me was their only access to the service. It has got better, they have realised this is the new normal, so they realise they need to answer the phone. A lot are resigned to the fact that they won't be working for some time, it is hard to motivate those who are longer term unemployed." - FSS provider

"More of face to face - easier to keep motivated. Now if don't want to speak to you don't answer the phone." - FSS Provider

One of the striking successes in the area has been the effective use of Facebook - by both Enable and Aberdeenshire Council - to attract clients.

"Before lockdown we got most of referrals from JCP - we have been meeting a lot of other organisations to get TPO referrals. Now we are generating all our own referrals. Facebook is our main selling point…To begin with we didn't have much success - then we decided that one person would focus on this - making sure post looked professional and trying to capture right market and that worked - using graphics." - FSS provider

Enable have now replaced their previous referral numbers just from Facebook - and they are getting participants who they feel are appropriate and motivated.

"All people [we are getting through social media] who want to work - so we are getting much better outcomes - more open to what they want to do, motivated. A lot of them not highly skilled but they have a good work ethic." - FSS provider

Lessons from this case study

Changes in staff have led to an improvement in performance

There appears to have been a significant improvement in reach and performance over the 6 months to March 2020, related to new management and a new local staff member for Momentum covering the Peterhead and Fraserburgh area (and its hinterland), with an active approach to engaging with JCP. FSS works with limited resources, with one member of staff covering the Shire, and employer engagement being led by one person who covers the whole of Scotland from a Glasgow base. This means that Momentum offered quite a limited service locally in Peterhead and Fraserburgh - but when a new area manager and local staff member were introduced during Autumn 2019 there was a concerted attempt to strengthen the engagement with JCP and TPOs. This appears to have led to an increase in referrals from JCP and a more substantial engagement with a wider range of clients.

There is a weak relationship between FSS and the local authority

The current relationship between the Lead Provider and the Local Authority - and the wider LEP, which the Lead Provider is a member of - is not strong. There have been efforts by the LEP to develop a strategic agreement about respective roles and relationships but this has not led to anything. There is mutual respect about the value of respective services and the commitment and experience of staff, but this has not led to an effective working relationship.

The enterprise strand is distinctive and important but is currently at risk

Enterprise Mentoring provide support for those who wish to pursue the self-employment option, but this effort has been hampered by the need for clients to make a choice between the intensive support offered by FSS and the financial assistance offered through the Enterprise Allowance Scheme (which does not offer intensive support).

The impact of FSS is seriously constrained by the limited range of local jobs and the difficulties around travelling to the much more substantial and varied labour market in Aberdeen

There are limited job opportunities in the area and few are able to work where the jobs are - in Aberdeen - because of the difficulties of reaching it by public transport People in Peterhead with cars prefer to work in Ellon which can be reached in 30 minutes.

There is now a strong working relationship with JCP

The new Momentum key worker in Peterhead and Fraserburgh has focused on strengthening the relationship with JCP and raising the awareness of work coaches in the two jobcentres. This has worked through to a very positive working relationship with regular consultation on referrals, a presence in the two Jobcentres and both briefings and warm handovers taking place in Jobcentres. This has significantly improved referral numbers from the Jobcentres.

The use of Facebook was triggered by the lockdown and has proved to be effective

Both Momentum and Enable have made effective use of Facebook in response to the drop in referrals from JCP- the number of self-referrals now matches the numbers previously referred from JCP. The main impact followed the creation of a clear lead for Facebook management and the use of client stories.


Email: socialresearch@gov.scot

Back to top