Fair Start Scotland: evaluation report 4 - participant phone survey - year 3

Part of a series of reports on the evaluation of Fair Start Scotland (FSS) employability services. The report presents more detailed findings from a representative telephone survey of FSS participants and explores their experiences in the third year of delivery

Introduction and methodology

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 fourth 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.

In this report, FSS participants are referred to as the 2018, 2019 and 2020 cohorts, according to the year they joined FSS. From 2020 onwards the survey has had a longitudinal element meaning that a proportion of the earlier cohorts were recontacted in the subsequent wave(s). The table below shows which respondents were surveyed over the three survey waves (longitudinal elements are shaded blue).

Wave 1 Survey (June 2019)

2018 cohort – 1,005 respondents

Joined FSS April – December 2018

Wave 2 Survey (May 2020)

2018 cohort – 400 respondents

2019 cohort – 607 respondents

Joined FSS January – December 2019

Wave 3 Survey (May 2021)

2018 cohort – 159 respondents

2019 cohort -205 respondents

2020 cohort – 663 respondents

Joined FSS in January – December 2020

This report details findings from the third Wave of the survey carried out in May 2021, and then draws out longitudinal findings for the 2018 and 2019 cohorts. The first six chapters focus predominantly on participants from the 2020 cohort, and within each chapter comparisons are made between cohorts where relevant. The final two chapters focus mainly on the changing experiences over time of the 2018 cohort (first surveyed in June 2019) and the 2019 cohort (first surveyed in May 2020). It should be noted that base sizes for the 2018 and 2019 cohorts (159 and 205 respectively) are low, such that sub-group comparisons should be treated with caution.

Differences between the different year groups, survey Waves and sub-groups within them have been tested for statistical significance (to 95 per cent confidence levels) and only those that are significant are reported on. Generally, questions where the base size was lower than 30 were not used.[1]


Email: Arfan.iqbal@gov.scot

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