The Scotland Act 2016 gave Scottish Ministers the powers to deliver employability support that helps disabled people or those at risk of long-term employment to seek, obtain, and retain employment.
135. The Scottish Government continues to work closely with all parties to maintain the support required to help those who are further from the labour market in their journeys towards and into and work, with over 29,000 people joining Fair Start Scotland (FSS) in the first two and a three quarter years of service (as of December 2020).
136. The Scottish Government proactively publishes information on its employability services, with statistics published quarterly on performance to date.
137. The Scottish Government has also published annual reports and evaluation findings for 2019 and 2020, setting out Fair Start Scotland performance and outcomes for people and communities.
Fair Start Scotland
138. Fair Start Scotland provides tailored, person-centred support to people who need help to find and stay in work, and achieve their full potential. Unlike previous UK Government initiatives, participation in FSS is voluntary.
139. The Scottish Government has contracted a mixed economy of public, private, and third sector service provided to deliver FSS across nine regional "Lots". The Scottish Government continues to work with service providers to continuously improve FSS support, ensuring it is tailored to participants' individual needs.
140. The most recent FSS performance (covering two years of delivery) has been outlined in both the annual and evaluation reports, which show that the service has matured over the second year of delivery. Key local partnerships have been established and enhanced, participants value the support they receive, and continue to feel they are treated with dignity and respect.
141. The Scottish Government will continue to work with a range of partners to support the wider ambition of alignment and integration of employability services as set out in its No One Left Behind strategy. The Scottish Government also continues to work closely with DWP on delivering and improving FSS services, including increased joint partnership working to support under-represented groups.
142. Scottish Ministers are committed to supporting the continued development and delivery of devolved employability services. As part of the Scottish Government's economic response to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, Scottish Ministers have extended the delivery of FSS services to end of March 2023 to allow for more people to benefit from support. In line with Scottish Fiscal Commission forecasts, a budget of £27 million has been allocated for FSS delivery in 2021-22, ensuring that support is available for those who face the greatest challenges to accessing the labour market.