The Scotland Act 2016 devolved responsibility for contracted employment support for disabled people and those at risk of long-term unemployment. Fair Start Scotland (FSS) launched in April 2018 and is now in its third year of service provision.
FSS is underpinned by the following principles:
- 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.
Delivery of FSS has been contracted out by the Scottish Government to six different service providers, over nine geographical Lots across Scotland. In its first year of provision (between April 2018 and March 2019) there were 10,063 starts on the service. Over the second full year of delivery, April 2019 to March 2020, there were 12,075 starts on FSS.
As part of the evaluation of FSS, IFF Research has been commissioned to conduct three annual waves of telephone survey research with FSS participants, over the period 2019 to 2021. The aim is to provide a representative picture of how participants are experiencing FSS and the outcomes they achieve.
The Wave 1 survey was carried out in June 2019 and included 1,005 FSS participants who had joined the service between April and December 2018 (referred to as the 2018 cohort). The Wave 2 survey was carried out in May 2020 and included 400 FSS participants from the 2018 cohort who had taken part in the survey at Wave 1, and 607 new participants who joined the service between January and December 2019 (referred to as the 2019 cohort).
This report details findings from the second wave of the survey carried out in May 2020. Each chapter begins with and focuses predominantly on participants from the 2019 cohort, and within each chapter comparisons are made between the 2019 cohort and the Wave 1, 2018 cohort where relevant. In chapters 3, 4 and 5 the report also includes sections on the experiences of support and outcomes over the longer term, for 2018 cohort participants who were surveyed at both Wave 1 and Wave 2. Differences between the different year groups, survey waves and sub-groups within them have been tested for statistical significance (to 95% confidence levels) and only those that are significant are reported on.
Further evaluation research findings from year 2 are published separately in two reports: local area case studies, and an overview of year 2. These are available on the Scottish Government website.
Detailed statistics, including demographics data, for FSS are published by the Scottish Government quarterly. Demographic data is also collected in the survey to ensure the sample is broadly representative of all FSS participants. A table comparing key demographics of the survey sample and official year 2 statistics can be found in Tables 6 and 7 in the Appendix.