As part of its wider approach to employability and sustainable work, the Scottish Government plans to introduce the Job Grant, a new benefit that consists of a one-off cash payment of £250 (or £400 for those who have children) to help young people aged 16-24 (25 for care leavers) cover the transition costs of moving into work.
This report analyses the responses to the public consultation, which was open between 16 January 2019 and 9 April 2019 and received 96 responses (52 from organisations and 44 from individuals). The consultation asked 17 questions - nine yes/no questions and eight open-ended questions - in order to identify views on the key eligibility criteria and the payment format of the Job Grant, as well as any unintended consequences and potential impacts.
Given the number of respondents, and the fact that they were not selected randomly, the views should not be considered representative of the views of the whole population. But they give a good indication of the range of opinions held by a notable number of interested organisations and individuals and the main issues they identify as important. As such, they provide an important evidence base to shape the Job Grant and support final policy decisions.
The key findings from the Job Grant consultation analysis are:
- The large majority of responding individuals and organisations found the eligibility criteria for the Job Grant to be clear.
- Many respondents expressed concerns around the criterion on qualifying benefits. The most common concern was the gap left for people aged 16-18 who are often not eligible for the qualifying benefits.
- Some respondents disagreed with the 6 months unemployed criterion. They felt that 6 months was a long time to be unemployed before being able to access the grant, both for young people in general and for those with protected characteristics. Some consultees were concerned that this might encourage certain applicants to defer the start of employment further in order to access the grant.
- Almost half of respondents found the proposed application period not to be suitable. The most frequent issue mentioned was the need to extend the application period beyond 14 days before or after the commencement of employment.
- A majority of responding organisations and individuals agree overall with the proposed format of the payment. The most frequent suggestions were to consider a more flexible amount tailored to different needs and to pay in instalments.
- Most organisations, and a large majority of individuals, believe that the Job Grant meets the policy intent to support a smooth transition into employment for young people on low incomes. One of the most frequently raised issues was that vulnerable young people will need appropriate support when applying for and receiving the grant. Further issues mentioned by respondents include:
- The money might not be used as intended
- The accountability for repayments in case of early termination of employment
- Money going further for those in urban areas than for those in rural areas, where costs are higher.
- Approximately 1 in 5 respondents said that they were aware of impacts on groups who share protected characteristics which have not been identified in the proposal. Those who provided further comments mentioned the following issues:
- Disabled people not being at the heart of the Job Grant initiative
- That parents and carers should be exempt from some of the eligibility criteria
- That care experienced people should be exempt from some of the eligibility criteria
- There were concerns about the impact that the Job Grant might have on people of ethnic minorities and refugees.
- Many responding organisations indicated that they were aware of impacts on children's rights and wellbeing which have not been identified in the proposal. Those who provided further comments mentioned:
- Potential impacts on young people's mental health
- Impacts due to the lack of a right to appeal
- The possibility that young people enter jobs with unfair or poor employment practices in order to access the grant.
- Only a few organisations and individuals said that they were aware of impacts on businesses which have not been identified in the proposal. One of the issues raised was that businesses might be negatively affected if they hire someone who then leaves after receiving the grant.
- Some responding organisations indicated that they were aware of impacts on island communities which have not been identified in the proposal. The concerns centred around higher transportation costs faced by people living on islands, which made it more difficult for them to secure a job and to apply for benefits including the Job Grant.