Scottish Government's Response to the Report Findings and Recommendations
A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People: Employment Action Plan (2018), outlined the Scottish Government's commitment to at least halve the Disability Employment Gap in Scotland by 2038. As part of activity to realise this ambition, we undertook to review Individual Placement and Support (IPS) delivered through Fair Start Scotland. In the tender specification, we stated that this would be benchmarked against wider provision of IPS. In July 2020, we commissioned Social Finance to undertake this review, with support and guidance from a Steering Group led by Professor Colin Lindsay, University of Strathclyde.
Individual Placement and Support is a model of supported employment proven to work particularly well in offering assistance to people with additional support needs, especially those with severe and enduring mental ill health, to help them find or re-enter sustainable employment that fits their needs and interests. This approach is important to delivering many of our ambitions around inclusive growth, tackling child poverty, and delivering public health reform. It is also in line with our No One Left Behind approach - our joint vision with Local Government for the future of employability support. This sets out our intention to create a system that is integrated and aligned with other services and puts the user at the heart of service design, providing flexible, person-centred support to ensure we can assist more people into the right job at the right time. IPS is also in line with the Scottish Government's Mental Health Strategy, which aims to explore innovative ways of connecting mental health, disability, and employment support in Scotland.
The purpose of this review was to consider the most appropriate approach to delivery of IPS in Scotland. We recognise the challenges expressed in the findings, but we and our officials are committed to a test and learn approach. This includes building on work in progress to further strengthen our existing partnerships with Public Health Scotland and Local Authorities, as well as the third sector and employers, and as part of the implementation of No One Left Behind.
The findings of this review reflect the significant potential of IPS in bringing people affected by mental ill health closer to the labour market, not only to access, but to sustain and progress in employment.
The Scottish Government welcomes the findings and recommendations of the review. Our response to the report is framed mainly by the current employability landscape in Scotland, with particular reference to Fair Start Scotland.
We note that the COVID-19 pandemic had a considerable impact on many areas of society, in particular health, but also on the economy and the labour market. We are aware that the effects of the pandemic have, in many cases, compounded existing issues for those already facing barriers within the labour market, including people with severe and enduring mental health issues. Therefore, in responding to the report we will seek to ensure that progress made in recent years in reducing the disability employment gap is not reversed as a result of labour market impacts (not only of the COVID-19 pandemic, but also leaving the European Union, and the prevailing cost crisis).
The Scottish Government recognises that the employability response to labour market inequalities must address the needs of individuals of all ages and circumstances, and build on the well-established services managed by Scottish and Local Government and others across the Scottish employability landscape. This also includes the complex interactions between economic inactivity and health outcomes. Work is underway to consider how health and employment services best align, including where IPS would sit within No One Left Behind to best support individuals who could benefit from the model.
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