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 sixth 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
- contracts that combine payment by job outcome and progression towards work
Delivery of FSS has been contracted out by the Scottish Government to five different service providers, over nine geographical Lots across Scotland. In years 1-4 of provision, between April 2018 and March 2022, there were 45,039 starts on the service. During the time period covered by the Wave 4 survey (July 2021 to June 2022), there were 12,194 starts.
Since the start of Year 4 (April 2021 – March 2022) of FSS, and in order to drive service improvement, a number of changes to delivery were introduced, including allowing those who had previously taken part to re-join the service. Other changes starting from April 2022 included allowing those undertaking a part-time education course (including ESOL - English for Speakers of Other Languages) to take part in the service, and a move to a hybrid delivery model, enabling a mix of online and in-person support (following the use of remote delivery of the service during the Covid-19 related restrictions).
As part of the ongoing evaluation of FSS, IFF Research was commissioned to conduct three annual waves of telephone survey research with FSS participants, over the period 2019 to 2021. IFF was then commissioned for this current Wave 4 in 2022.
The aim of the survey is to provide a representative picture of how participants are experiencing FSS and the outcomes they achieve. The research was designed to enhance the Scottish Government’s current understanding of what works in employment support for individuals and ultimately to promote the continuous improvement of policy and service delivery. This includes a particular focus on the views of individuals who face multiple and complex barriers to employment, and the views of those from families at highest risk of being affected by child poverty.
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