Scotland Act 2016 implementation: seventh annual report

Report to inform parliament of the implementation work that has been carried out on fiscal powers devolved in the Scotland Act 2016.

8. Employability

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

£m 2019-20 2020-21 2021-22 2022-23
Implementation 0 0 0 0
Administration/Operation 18.7 25.7 30 £25.8m

Main Developments

97. Fair Start Scotland was launched in April 2018 and provides tailored, person-centred support to people who need help to find and stay in work, and to achieve their full potential. Unlike previous UK Government initiatives, participation in Fair Start Scotland is voluntary.

98. The service is currently delivered by a mixed economy of public, private, and third sector service providers, covering all of Scotland in nine regional "Lots".

99. The Scottish Government regularly publishes national statistics releases on Fair Start Scotland service performance, alongside independent evaluation reports and an annual report to the Scottish Parliament. The latest statistics release[14], covering the period from launch to end December 2022 shows that there were 54,030 starts and 18,819 job starts.

100. In January 2023, the Scottish Government published the fourth Fair Start Scotland Annual Report[15] alongside research reports[16] which provided an insight into participants experiences of the support they received while on the service.

101. The Annual Report highlights how the service adapted in the face of the emerging economic and cost crisis challenges, and in response to feedback from participants and partners. Performance analysis, research evidence and feedback from providers demonstrates how Fair Start Scotland continued to be a positive intervention for those who wish to move into fair and sustainable employment, through the provision of individualised tailored support.

102. The report also details the increased demand for support with non-work-related barriers to employment during 2021/22. Mental health, housing and debt were all increasingly prominent challenges because of the economic climate and COVID-19.

103. An economic evaluation[17] of the service published in November 2021 demonstrated that Fair Start Scotland provides value for money and a positive return on investment, with benefit-cost ratios of 1.4, 1.6 and 2.0 from the perspective of participants, public finances, and society respectively.

104. Individual Placement and Support (IPS)[18] and Supported Employment[19] are integral parts of the Scottish employability support landscape. Independent reviews of each model within Fair Start Scotland were commissioned by the Scottish Government. The Supported Employment review was published in September 2022 and the IPS review was published in January 2023. These reviews will allow for success factors to be built upon, whilst identifying areas for improvement to ensure the continuation of this vital element of support for individuals as they move towards and into work.

105. Fair Start Scotland continuous improvement activity continues to focus on enhancing engagement with under-represented and under-supported groups and developing better support for individuals with more complex needs. The Fair Start Scotland delivery model has been developed in response to the easing of COVID restrictions and feedback to ensure that participants can work with their provider to establish what mode of service delivery works best for them and their individual needs.

106. Scottish Ministers are committed to supporting the continued development and delivery of devolved employability services. To realise our No One Left Behind ambitions, we are taking a collective approach to employability where Scottish and Local Government are working in partnership with third and private sectors and with service users to design, deliver and improve the Scottish approach to employability, ensuring that support is more flexible and responsive to individual and local labour market need.

107. Fair Start Scotland contracts are due to end in March 2023. However Scottish Ministers made the decision to extend Fair Start Scotland referrals for a final 12 months, commencing on 1 April 2023. Referrals will continue to be accepted to the service until 31 March 2024. The decision to extend Fair Start Scotland will support stability within the system and continue to provide employability support to people at risk of long-term unemployment over the next 12 months.



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