Scotland's Devolved Employment Services: statistical summary November 2020

This publication presents statistics up to the end of September 2020 covering the first two and a half years of Fair Start Scotland (FSS)

This document is part of a collection

Background Information

1. Official Statistics 

These are official statistics – they are no longer classified as experimental statistics. Experimental statistics are defined by 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'. This early stage has now passed, with user feedback used to improve the publication, though any comments or feedback are still welcome. More detail on designation of statistics can  be found at:

2. 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 (30 September 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.

3. Fair Start Scotland (FSS) background information


Detailed statistics on the number of referrals to FSS, number of starts and job outcomes are presented in the accompanying tables, numbered 1 to 8. Tables 1 to 7 show changes to FSS over time, with Tables 4 to 7 providing breakdowns of equalities characteristics. Table 8 provides a breakdown of data by local authority and FSS delivery area. The caveats that apply to national data also apply to local authority data (see the end of Background Information Section 3).

Data sources

The Scottish Employability Tracking System (SETS

SETS is the Scottish Government referrals tracking system for Fair Start Scotland. Information on those referred to FSS ('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 13 October 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, SG equalities monitoring forms, phone conversations and electronic questionniares (see section Impact of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) on data quality); 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 30 September 2020. 



The referral numbers published in this release are net figures, which excludes 1245 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 September 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 30 September 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.

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:

  • 2,493 participants answered the second question on extent of limitation (64 yes, a lot; 331 yes, a little; 2,098 not at all). These responses were excluded from the totals. 
  • 710 people reported one or more long-term health condition (800 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 their methods of supporting people, 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. There are particularly high levels of missing data for ethnicity in July to September 2020 in the North East (94%), Tayside (100%) and Lanarkshire (80%) delivery areas.

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, the range of other existing services available in the area, the relationship between FSS provider staff and JCP work coaches, and the range and scale of local job opportunities. 

4. Previous editions of this publications

This publication has previously reported on Work First Scotland (WFS), Work Able Scotland (WAS), and the Health & Work Support pilot in Dundee and Fife. These services have now closed. The final statistics for WFS and WAS were published 26 February 2020 (, and the final statistics for the Health & Work Support pilot were published 27 May 2020 ( Other services operate within Scotland, including those run by local authorities and third sector providers which are not included in this publication.

5. 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


6. 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

Crown Copyright

You may use or re-use this information (not including logos) free of charge in any format or medium, under the terms of the Open Government Licence. See:



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