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Chamber and committees

Question ref. S6W-03784
Asked by: Gordon MacDonald, Edinburgh Pentlands, Scottish National Party
Date lodged: 13 October 2021

Question

To ask the Scottish Government what progress has been made during year three of Fair Start Scotland, and what impact COVID-19 has had on performance and service delivery.

Current status: Answered by Richard Lochhead on 14 October 2021


Answer

Fair Start Scotland (FSS) is Scotland’s national devolved employability support service, which helps those further from the labour market to progress towards and into fair and sustainable fair work.

We published the third Fair Start Scotland Annual Report on the 14 th October 2021. The report gives an overview of progress throughout 2021-21, highlighting how the service adapted to the demands of COVID-19 and the changing employability landscape to ensure that Fair Start Scotland participants continued to be supported.

It is available from SPICe at reference SG/2021/244

We are also publishing Fair Start Scotland Evaluation Report 4: Overview of year 3. This is the fourth FSS evaluation report, and details the research that supports the third year of service delivery up to 31 March 2021. The report includes findings from a telephone survey of over 1000 participants; local area case studies; interviews with participants across the country, senior Scottish Government colleagues and senior DWP stakeholders, analysis of management information on participants’ outcomes and an economic evaluation which includes an assessment of the value for money of the service.

This report is available from the Scottish Government website here: https://www.gov.scot/isbn/9781802014587

The Annual Report and evaluation findings demonstrate how Fair Start Scotland responded to the significant challenges that COVID-19 brought over the last 18 months.

Despite these challenges and the various difficulties faced by participants during this time, over 10,000 people chose to join Fair Start Scotland for help in year three and to date 4,170 of those participants have moved into work.

The impacts of COVID-19 are likely to have a profound and lasting impact on FSS delivery and our ambitions, however the extension of the Fair Start Scotland service for a further two years until 31 March 2023 has ensured that there is continued support and much needed stability for those facing long term unemployment.

As we enter the fourth year of FSS delivery, we are firmly focused on high quality delivery and outcomes, and making our services inclusive and accessible for all. We will also continue to make improvements to the service through our “test and learn” approach working closely with our partners and participants to ensure they continue to receive a quality, tailored service with dignity and respect at the centre of their support.

We also continue to work towards our No One Left Behind ambitions, working with local government and other partners to develop a locally responsive and flexible employability system that delivers the right support at the right time for those who need it most.