9. Summary of key messages
9.1 This final chapter seeks to read across the material presented to summarise the key messages that have emerged. As with the rest of the report, we have retained a focus on what worked well and what worked less well. We have presented these lessons in summary form to make them accessible for wider dissemination if appropriate.
What worked well?
- The key point throughout is that both the Scottish Government and SDS have launched their programmes on time and relatively smoothly. Given that they were new programmes and that this was a new area of activity for the Scottish Government, this is a significant achievement.
- Moreover, the experience of going through the design, development and implementation process has provided valuable learning for the launch of future programmes.
- The Governance structures received a wide range of positive comment. The various groups appear to have worked well: high quality papers were produced; information was shared in an open way; and those attending felt that their views were valued.
- Relationships and joint working between the Scottish Government and DWP have developed over the period. From a slightly slow start, there now appears to be much closer working and mutual understanding.
- The Scottish Government has been able to build its own capacity in a fairly short period of time. This has been helped through secondments and recruitment from DWP, as well as advice and guidance provided by SDS and other key individuals.
- The decision to have a transitional year was widely regarded as pragmatic within the timescales available. It greatly reduced the risks around launching the new programmes and has created the opportunity to learn about a range of issues which should benefit the full devolved programme starting in 2018.
- The procurement of both programmes was successful, with providers being appointed and in a position to start delivery on time. The relatively open discussions around the non-competitive awards for WFS were viewed favourably.
- The mobilisation period was very tightly managed with standard process and regular contact with providers. This helped to ensure a smooth launch.
What worked less well? What are the challenges?
- The parallel decision making structures in Scottish Government and DWP have created some challenges, mainly related to the timing and sequencing of decisions than as a significant detriment to decisions being made.
- SDS felt their potential role changed. Moreover, although they were asked to input to the design of WAS, the timeline for delivery, and shifting financial and policy parameters from the UK Budget announcement, combined with the overarching need for Government to Government accountability, necessitated decisions to be taken while undertaking the development work. As a result, SDS felt the design of the programme was directed more by Scottish Government than would normally have been the case for programmes that they deliver on their behalf.
- There was some frustration, particularly on the part of providers, that despite a wide ranging consultation the new programmes were funded to a similar level and operated very much like those that had come before. They had expected more change, reflecting a communication issue around managing expectations.
- The procurement of WAS was described as onerous. This could have caused issues for some smaller providers. It also led to a significant amount of staff time being required to review bids.
- There was concern about initial levels of referrals to WAS. This was seen to reflect: a lack of detailed understanding about the client group; the limitations of having a single referral route ( JCP) to the programme; and the delay in briefing JCP Work Coaches about the new programme.
- Despite contracts being in place at an earlier point that usual, the programmes were not promoted to Work Coaches until four weeks before launch. It was widely commented that this should have happened earlier.