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  • Writer's pictureKenneth Gibson MSP

Fair Start Scotland Launched Today

In recent years, tangible progress has been made in reducing unemployment in Scotland but, unfortunately, there are still many people who struggle to find and keep a job. As such, the SNP Government is committed to going above and beyond in order to ensure as many people as possible are able to benefit from stable employment. As part of this commitment and to welcome the opportunity for better integration and alignment in service provision, an innovative employment support service – Fair Start Scotland – has been developed. This aims to help those facing the greatest barriers to find and stay in work

As Scotland’s first fully devolved employment service, Fair Start Scotland will provide tailored, person-centred support to a minimum of 38,000 people, including those who encounter significant adversity when attempting to enter the labour market, from Today, 03 April.

This service, which for participants is entirely voluntary, will have respect and fairness at its core, supporting people to achieve their full potential. It is distinctive in that it will work with unemployed people to help and encourage them to see employment support as an opportunity, rather than being driven by the threat of financial sanctions, as existing benefits will not be affected. The new partnership approach will see employment support services delivered by a mix of public, private and third sector organisations. All providers have committed to a Fair Work, Workforce and Community Benefits agenda; including paying the living wage and avoiding the use of zero hours contracts.

Towards the end of 2017 nine local area agreements were put in place to deliver the service. Contract Area 6, which covers Ayrshire and Dumfries and Galloway, was awarded £10.1 million; a sum expected to deliver results. This approach differs greatly to that of the UK Tory Government as its delivery directly reflects the views of unemployed people. Scotland’s different geographies, economies and population spread have also been considered, as opposed to the UK Government approach whereby Scotland is viewed as just one area.

Newly devolved welfare powers, exercised from April 2017 through Work First and Work Able Scotland, facilitated the creation of an increasingly flexible service, responsive to a changing labour market; one that will tackle inequalities and grow Scotland’s economy by helping more people into work in the fairest possible manner.

Ahead of the launch, the SNP Government set out the steps towards delivering more effective employability support across Scotland. A new plan published on Tuesday 27 March and entitled ‘No One Left Behind – Next steps for the Integration and Alignment of Employability Support in Scotland’, outlines a series of actions specifically designed to integrate employability support with health, justice, and housing. The clear focus on connecting employability with these services will act as a catalyst for future work and ensure a solid platform on which to build going forward.

Furthermore, the announcement of Fair Start Scotland has kick-started a wider discussion with partners on how to continue building a comprehensive and easily-accessible system of support. The plan has been developed collaboratively across all departments of the SNP Government with key partners including the Scottish Local Economic Development Group, Skills Development Scotland, NHS Scotland, and the Scottish Prison Service.

This service illustrates commitment to an approach focusing on the needs of the individual first and foremost; providing them with finely-tuned support to expand the opportunities available to them, fulfil their ambitions and, as a result, improve their quality of life.

‘No One Left Behind – Next Steps for the Integration and Alignment of Employability Support in Scotland’ is available in full at:

Further details available on the Employability in Scotland website:



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