No One Left Behind and the Young Person's Guarantee: implementation evaluation

The evaluation explores how effectively No One Left Behind and the Young Person’s Guarantee had been implemented, the experiences of service providers and service users, and lessons from early delivery. The evaluation took place between May and December 2022.

3. Progress in implementation

Key Findings

  • There was mixed feedback from local stakeholders on how well No One Left Behind had been implemented locally, although most perceived this positively.
  • No One Left Behind was said to have facilitated better partnership working between employability stakeholders at the local level, including bringing greater focus and purpose to existing partnerships structures.
  • Whilst there was some variation between areas in the extent to which No One Left Behind was considered to represent a 'new' approach, most local stakeholders agreed that it had contributed to further development and enhancement of services.
  • Some local stakeholders thought more could be done to engage and support people who were furthest from the labour market, including those with protected characteristics.
  • Most stakeholders thought the Young Person's Guarantee had been implemented well locally and was an appropriate response to mitigating the impact of the pandemic on young people's progression in learning and work.
  • The main challenge identified by local stakeholders in relation to implementation of the Guarantee was the short timescales for the distribution of the funding due to annual funding not being confirmed until part-way through the financial year.
  • There was variation between local authorities in the balance of services delivered in-house relative to externally commissioned, although most were working with a wide range of third sector, private sector and education providers.
  • Local authorities were also working with a wide range of local employers, and the Employer Recruitment Incentive had created new opportunities to expand their work with employers.
  • The monitoring and reporting requirements for No One Left Behind (which includes activity delivered through the Young Person's Guarantee) were considered very time consuming by local authorities who had to gather and collate data from across the range of partners and employers they were working with.

3.1 Introduction

This chapter reports on local stakeholder perceptions of the implementation and early delivery of No One Left Behind and the Young Person's Guarantee. It begins with stakeholders' perceptions of progress made in implementation covering early set up, progress towards key aims and objectives,[7] enablers and barriers to implementation and monitoring and reporting. The is followed by an overview of employment service delivery and how this has changed since the introduction of No One Left Behind. The findings presented draw on evidence from interviews with stakeholders in five local authority areas, including local authority staff, third sector staff and employers. It also draws on evidence from the survey of frontline staff.

3.2 Progress in implementation

Early set up

Awareness and involvement of local stakeholders with the early set up of No One Left Behind typically depended on how long they had been working in employability services. Interview discussions with local stakeholders around early set up focussed on communication, partnership working, and administration. There were variations in reported experiences depending on local authority area and job role.

In terms of early communication, there was a lot of dialogue between local authorities, third sector organisations, employers and other local partners. One third sector stakeholder thought that initial communication and engagement from local authorities about No One Left Behind had been positive. However, they also noted that there was still more to do to achieve the strategy's aims (discussed in more detail later in this chapter).

"I think there was definitely some good engagement before the roll-out of it to get involvement from third sector, and feedback on what it should look like…I think there was that whole delay between what they said, what they did and when the cash actually landed. I'm sure when they evaluate the outcomes and the statistics for that period, they'll see that there's probably not a lot been actually achieved…"

(Third sector stakeholder)

Local authorities had different starting points when it came to partnership working. Some local authorities used existing partnerships to involve stakeholders in early implementation while others described having to work on building relationships. For example, one local authority worked to ensure their existing LEP had more of a strategic focus while another smaller local authority did not have this structure in place prior to No One Left Behind and had been working to develop relationships with organisations where there had previously been 'competition' for resources. It should also be noted that this local authority questioned whether the LEP model was the best for them as given the size of the local authority there were relatively few staff involved in employability.

"Whereas before it was a really useful talking shop, in that people came together and they shared a bit of information and what they were doing…I obviously brought a more strategic viewpoint to the LEP and made sure that people who were around the table were decision makers…"

(Local authority stakeholder)

"We've never had a LEP, it's only just getting into now that are systemic problems in [local authority] for partnership working, because again previously we had competition with [a public sector organisation] whereas now we're having to work alongside them...that's a bit of a tricky relationship to hold and to manage."

(Local authority stakeholder)

There was evidence of local authorities and partners working together to resolve implementation issues. For example, one third sector delivery partner described how initially only the basic pension contribution rate was covered for employees recruited through the ERI, whereas they were committed to paying a pension rate. The local authority was able to come up with a solution so that the employer did not incur a cost.

Progress in implementation

There was mixed feedback on how well No One Left Behind had been implemented locally, although most local employability staff perceived this positively. More than half (59%) of those delivering employment services thought No One Left Behind had been implemented fairly or very well in their local area (Figure 3.1). However, more than one in five (22%) thought it had been implemented not very well or not at all well. A fifth (19%) of those who responded to the survey said they didn't know how well No One Left Behind had been implemented in their area.

This aligned with feedback from local stakeholders who participated in interviews and focus groups who thought that, whilst some progress had been made in implementation, there was more to do to ensure that the key aims and objectives of No One Left Behind were being met. Others commented that it was still too early to say how well it was working and what difference it had made.

Figure 3.1: How well do you think No One Left Behind has been implemented in your area?
described in body of report

Source: Ipsos survey of frontline staff

Base: 172

Some local stakeholders thought more could be done to engage and support those furthest from the labour market. One local authority representative reflected that, while the unemployme nt rate and claimant rate in their area was "very low", there was more work to do to reach groups that were less engaged with employability services. Related to this, when working with the hardest to reach groups, one local authority stakeholder reflected that it would take time to overcome the multiple barriers some individuals face when it comes to employability.

"We know we still need to do more there because we still have gaps in terms of if we look at the more deprived areas, as I mentioned to you earlier, there's a disability employment gap that every area will have, I'm sure. But I think there's been huge progress in the numbers coming down. But, as I say, that now leaves us with a challenge around going to the less traditional groups that maybe haven't engaged so much in the past."

(Local authority stakeholder)

Most stakeholders thought that the Young Person's Guarantee had been implemented well locally. Almost three quarters (72%) of those who completed the staff survey thought the Guarantee had been implemented fairly or very well in their area and less than one in ten (8%) thought it had not been implemented well (Figure 3.2). This aligned with feedback from interviews and focus groups with local stakeholders and staff, where the consensus was that implementation of the Guarantee had gone well.

Figure 3.2: How well do you think the Young Person's Guarantee has been implemented in your area?
described in body of report

Source: Ipsos survey of frontline staff

Base: 172

The main challenge raised in relation to implementation of the Guarantee was the short timescales for the distribution of the funding. Local authorities would have welcomed earlier confirmation of how much funding would be made available through the Guarantee and greater flexibility on when this could be used.

"It's been a bit frustrating that the Scottish Government have taken so long to actually get the cash out and then they want it spent tomorrow, and they're not letting it be carried over. So you get 6 months' funding to implement a brand new service, to recruit, to implement, to get in place, achieve outcomes."

(Local authority stakeholder)

Monitoring and reporting

The general consensus was that monitoring and reporting of No One Left Behind and Young Person's Guarantee was very time consuming for local authorities. Certain aspects were described as frustrating such as standardising information provided by partners, which required a lot of engagement, communication and support given that partners all had different existing processes and systems for collecting and recording data on service users. Data collection and reporting were described by one third sector stakeholder as the area which needs most improvement going forward One local authority also mentioned the level of paperwork that was required from employers to process ERI payments. These challenges are discussed further in Chapter 4 in relation to the administrative burden associated with delivering employability services.

"We have access to their [local authority] database to record all the information for the client records. I would say that that's probably the area that's needing more work done on it, but again, it's probably been harder, until the service was up and running, for them to see what it looked like, and what they were going to have to put in…"

(Third Sector stakeholder)

"From a remuneration point of view, for the ERIs with employers, that was really challenging because we were getting pay checks coming in left, right, and centre, trying to get these processed, verified, audited, to then get them onto a finance system, to get them remunerated."

(Local authority stakeholder)

There were some positive comments in relation to monitoring and reporting. One local authority described how they are now tracking things they had not done before, such as the number of service users who have a cognitive impairment. The insights from this are being used to inform and support continuous improvement in service delivery.

Third sector staff and employers generally had fewer comments on this element of the process. There were some employers who do their own internal monitoring and reporting alongside No One Left Behind and Young Person's Guarantee requirements and this did not seem to be a problem for them. Service delivery

Contracting of services

There was wide variation between local authorities in the balance of services delivered in-house relative to externally commissioned. In most cases, the key worker element was delivered internally by the local authority whilst some other types of provision were outsourced. In one area, 90% of provision was sourced from third sector providers. By contrast, another local authority delivered everything internally and only outsourced very niche or specialist support as and when needed. Another described how they had previously aimed to deliver as much as possible in-house, but this had changed because of No One Left Behind and the additional funding that was made available through this.

"[September 2021] we commissioned early and where normally we would put £500,000 out as a max, we put £1.6 million out. That was with the support of No One Left Behind and the additional funding there. More than half of that goes to the third sector but we also have, and we really value, a lot of the private sector companies that are in the area as well because they're very good also."

(Local authority representative)

Local authorities were working with a wide range of third sector, private sector and education providers. In most cases, No One Left Behind provision had built on existing well-established partnerships within local areas rather than resulting in new structures or partnerships. There was a general preference for sourcing local providers where possible as the consensus was that they were better placed to understand the needs and opportunities available within the area.

"We've had a Local Employability Partnership in [our area] for years. It has representation from children's services, criminal justice, health, and they will then all link in with a range of other community partnerships."

(Local authority representative)

"Partnership was aways there but has been 'finessed'. It's been an opportunity to build on what we've already got."

(Local authority representative)

Employer Recruitment Incentives

Local authorities were working with a wide range of employers locally. One had previously recruited around 60 local employers to offer work experience placements through the DWP Kickstart programme (which closed in January 2023). They have been able to keep working with those employers due to the ERI they can offer through Young Person's Guarantee. Another discussed how a lot of local employers, particularly those in the hospitality industry, were facing recruitment challenges which was creating an incentive for them to engage with employment services.

However, some did question whether the ERI was appropriate in the current tight labour market and suggested it was raising an expectation amongst employers that they should be funded to offer young people employment opportunities. This suggests that some local authorities were distributing ERIs based on employer expectations rather than user need.

"[Kickstart and ERIs] have created a hunger for employers to be given free money. An ERI should be used for those who can't get work otherwise. But the Scottish and UK governments have shot themselves in the foot and made our job a damn sight harder because they just said, 'Here's lots of money – take people into employment."

(Local authority representative)

Changes due to No One Left Behind

There was some variation between areas in the extent to which No One Left Behind was considered to represent a new approach, although most local stakeholders agreed that it had contributed to further development and enhancement of services. Most areas had existing well established systems, processes and partnerships in place for delivering employability services that broadly aligned with the key principles of No One Left Behind.

However, the consensus was that No One Left Behind had created an opportunity to tailor provision more closely to local needs and to focus more on partnership delivery at the local level. The change was generally considered to be incremental rather than transformational, which was partly attributed to local services having to change and adapt in response to the pandemic which diverted resources and attention away from No One Left Behind implementation.

"It's very much changed. I feel as if it's got much more focused on the local area. So before, you would have had national pots of funding and you could still apply but you were very much guided by a national set of guidance. Yes, there are some things that will be the same across everywhere but being able to tailor the funding and support that's required into the localities that you're working in is making a big difference."

(Third sector representative)

"I think it creates the opportunity for a new approach to employability. I'm not sure it has come at a time or in a way that has enabled us to radically change what is happening. Obviously, anything during COVID has just been hit by the reality of how difficult that's become."

(Third sector representative)

Changes due to Young Person's Guarantee

Young Person's Guarantee was considered to have addressed a gap arising from the closure of the DWP Kickstart programme. Several local stakeholders referenced this.

"Kickstart's now finished. And Young Person's Guarantee is probably what Kickstart should have been in terms of giving much more flexibility to do what you wanted to do."

(Local authority representative)

Most local stakeholders agreed that the Guarantee was an appropriate approach to mitigating the impact of the pandemic on young people. The consensus was that it had helped ensure that appropriate provision and resources were in place to stop young people dropping out due to being isolated or unable to access opportunities.

"I think the fundamental principle there, of a Young Person's Guarantee that says, no matter who you are, wherever you are in Scotland, you have the right to be in work, or an alternative to work, that suits you, I think that's really powerful."

(Third sector representative)

However, others were less convinced and expressed frustrated that the funding had come to them very late which created pressure to spend it. They also queried why it was being treated separately to No One Left Behind rather than integrated within one overall funding pot, particularly given that one of the key aims of No One Left Behind is to facilitate better integration of employment support services.

"I'm not convinced. The monies that have come in have been really helpful, and we've been able to spend some of it, but a lot of it came in very late which didn't help. And why is it not just classed as No One Left Behind? Why has it got a different name? We've got other funding streams under No One Left Behind."

(Local authority representative)

Promotion of services

Local authorities were working through local partners to promote No One Left Behind and the Young Person's Guarantee. Most had well established referral pathways in place with local partners who would promote the services they were offering to key target groups they were working with. Some were also using their website and social media channels to promote the service.

However, local stakeholders typically did not use the terminology of 'No One Left Behind' and 'Young Person's Guarantee' as the consensus was that it was too jargony and didn't mean anything to potential service users.

"So, what we're trying to do here is we use our Facebook page. It's the best tool that we have ever used, and I cannot believe that we only started it three or four years because it is an absolute gold mine for us."

(Local authority representative)

"We don't use terms YPG or NOLB when talking to clients. "We just say, 'Yes, come on in next Thursday and we'll get you a careers review.' They don't even know it's a different. They don't care. It's a service. But what they do value, I think, is having that single point of contact through the key worker."

(Local authority representative)



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