Scotland's Devolved Employment Services: statistical summary May 2020

This publication presents statistics up to the end of March 2020; covering the first two years of Fair Start Scotland (FSS), which launched in April 2018, and the 21 months of the Health and Work Support pilot which launched in June 2018 and closed in March 2020.

This document is part of a collection

Background Information

1. Experimental Statistics

Experimental statistics are a type of official statistics that are undergoing development. They are defined in the Code of Practice for Statistics as: 'a subset of newly developed or innovative official statistics undergoing evaluation, that are published in order to involve users and stakeholders in the assessment of their suitability and quality at an early stage'.

For a number of years these statistics have been experimental as we developed our reporting for FSS. Taking into account user feedback collected over the last year, we will be considering labelling these statistics as official statistics between the May 2020 and August 2020 publication.

2a. Reporting periods

Fair Start Scotland. This publication reports on all referrals and starts from 13 March 2018 to the end of the most recent quarter (31 March 2020). The service was launched on 3 April 2018 (Q1). There was an opportunity for referrals to be made and starts to be recorded for a short period prior to the launch of the service, commencing 13 March 2018. Referrals and starts which occurred before the official launch of the service are reported along with the April 2018 data.

Health & Work Support pilot. The pilot was launched on 26 June 2018 and was scheduled to run for 2 years, but closed early at the end of March 2020 due to the redeployment of NHS staff to support NHS Tayside and NHS Fife's response to COVID-19. This publication reports on referrals and enrolments from the first quarter (26 June to 30 September 2018) to the end of the most recent quarter (1 January to 31 March 2020). The numbers of people accessing light touch support was low, so these were reported every six months rather than quarterly, to reduce disclosure risk. In this publication, the number of people accessing light touch support in the final quarter, 1 January to 31 March 2020, is also reported.

2b. Reporting differences

The age groupings and classifications used for reporting health conditions in this publication for the Health & Work Support pilot differ slightly from those used for Fair Start Scotland. This is because different organisations deliver and manage the services.

3. Fair Start Scotland (FSS) background information

Data sources

The Scottish Employability Tracking System (SETS)

SETS is the Scottish Government referrals tracking system for Fair Start Scotland. Information on those referred ('referrals') and outcomes relating to those individuals, including those who join FSS ('starts'), enter employment ('job starts'), and subsequently achieve employment outcomes ('job outcomes'), is recorded on SETS. It tracks the progress of referrals made to the service and provides management information in relation to performance.

The statistics in this release are based on figures extracted from SETS on 15 January 2020.

Information provided by service providers

The statistics on age, gender, long-term health conditions, disability and ethnic group are derived from information collected by service providers when an individual joins FSS. Information is collected via a combination of face-to-face interviews and SG equalities monitoring forms, using SG recommended questions and published using related output classifications. The statistics in this release are based on returns for the period 13 March 2018 to 31 March 2020.



The referral numbers published in this release are net figures, which excludes 986 rejected referrals. The vast majority of these were duplicates.


The 'start rate' i.e. the percentage of people who joined FSS is calculated by dividing the number of starts by the number of referrals within a given period. People who were referred in the most recent quarter, particularly in March 2020, may not have had time to join the service by the end of the month. Because of this, the start rate for the most recent quarter should not be used for considering the overall performance of the service.

Early leavers

An early leaver is someone who exits the service before the end of the pre-employment support period without achieving an employment outcome.

Job starts

When an individual progresses into work, service providers record a 'job start' for the individual on SETS. An individual can enter employment more than once; however the figures in this publication are for the individual's first recorded job only. The number of job starts is therefore equal to the number of people who had entered employment. All figures are up to 31 March 2020.

Employment outcomes

A 3 month (13 week) job outcome is achieved when a participant stays in a job, or is self-employed, working 16 hours per week or more, for at least 13 weeks out of 16; that is, continuous employment, but not necessarily in the same job, lasting 13 out of 16 weeks (breaks in employment must total no more than 3 weeks).

A 6 month (26 week) job outcome is achieved when a participant stays in a job, or is self-employed, working 16 hours per week or more, for at least 26 weeks out of 30; that is, continuous employment, but not necessarily in the same job, lasting 26 out of 30 weeks (breaks in employment must total no more than 4 weeks).

A 1 year (12 month, 52 week) job outcome is achieved when a participant stays in a job, or is self-employed, working 16 hours per week or more, for at least 52 weeks out of 60; that is, continuous employment, but not necessarily in the same job, lasting 52 out of 60 weeks (breaks in employment must total no more than 8 weeks).

Data quality

Some inconsistencies in responses to the questions on long-term health conditions and disability, as reported by service providers, were identified and amended as follows:

Of those people who responded 'No' to the question asking whether respondents had a physical or mental health condition lasting, or expected to last 12 months or more:

  • 2,132 participants answered the second question on extent of limitation (49 yes, a lot; 222 yes, a little; 1,861 not at all). These responses were excluded from the totals.
  • 306 people reported one or more long-term health condition (346 conditions in total were recorded). These conditions have been excluded from the count of long-term health conditions.

Impact of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) on data quality

Due to COVID-19 physical distancing guidelines, FSS providers have had to adapt the method of engagement with people receiving support, moving from contact in person to telephone and online contact. This has led to lower rates of data completion of equalities information, whilst data collection methods have been adapted to the new circumstances in consideration of data protection guidance. It has also caused disruption to some providers where data is held in the workplace and is not currently accessible to staff now working from home.

Comparisons with other employment services' data

Please use caution when comparing FSS data with data from other employment services across the UK, as features of service design (e.g. whether voluntary or mandatory, eligibility criteria) and definitions (e.g. how job outcomes are measured) may differ.

Local authority data

Please use caution in interpreting data at lower levels of geography, as numbers are small in some instances and there are many factors contributing to variations in totals across LAs. The Scottish Government's evaluation of year 1 of FSS suggests factors include the local reputation of FSS staff, the prior roles of staff and the reputation of previous services, range of other existing services available in the area, relationship between FSS provider staff and JCP work coaches, and the range and scale of local job opportunities[15].

4. Health & Work Support Pilot background information

Data sources

Data for the case management service was recorded on Syntax, a system run by Salus (NHS Lanarkshire). Referrals and enrolment information were collected via a web-based referral form or by a call handler provided by Salus. All information was self-reported by the client.



Referrals were made either by people themselves or an external organisation (e.g. GPs, Jobcentre Plus or employers). This was completed before employment status, health condition or eligibility had been determined. All referrals were counted, even if they were not eligible or the user did not wish to continue. The pilot accepted referrals as eligible if they came from anyone with ill-health and/or a disability, living or working in Dundee City or Fife, who were either:

  • Recently unemployed (up to 6 months)
  • Working but at risk of unemployment (so for example, the participant could be off-sick from work/absent from work).


An enrolment (where the participant joins the service) was recorded when a participant had spoken to a call handler to determine their eligibility and collect basic information about their situation, including equalities information. The client was enrolled into the case management services provided by NHS staff in either Dundee City or Fife.

Health conditions

The health status of a client was recorded by the case manager during the clinical assessment performed by NHS staff in the local teams. All health conditions for those enrolled into the case management service and who had an assessment should have been recorded, but sometimes they may not have been. Health conditions were self-reported by the client to the case manager, who then recorded it using pre-decided commonly occuring categories (e.g. Mental health – depression). It's important to note that the health conditions reported for the pilot were collected in a different way to the health conditions reported in FSS.

5. Work First Scotland (WFS) and Work Able Scotland (WAS)

This publication has previously reported on Work First Scotland (WFS) and Work Able Scotland (WAS). These services have now closed, and final statistics are available in the accompaying tables. Other services operate within Scotland, including those run by local authorities and third sector providers which are not included in this publication.

6. Correspondence and enquiries

For enquiries about this publication, please contact:

Robert Cook

For general enquiries about Scottish Government statistics, please contact:

Office of the Chief Statistician
Telephone 0131 244 0442

7. Complaints and suggestions

If you are not satisfied with our service, or have any comments or suggestions, please write to the Chief Statistician, GR, St. Andrews House, EH1 3DG; telephone 0131 244 0302; e-mail

If you would like to be consulted about statistical collections or receive notification of publications, please register your interest at



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