2. Policy and delivery context
2.1 The UK Government delivers services to support unemployed people into work through the Department for Work and Pensions ( DWP). This includes a range of contracted support. The Work Programme and Work Choice (for disabled people) are the two main employment support contracts delivered by DWP. Following the Scottish Independence Referendum in 2014, the Smith Agreement set out a range of new powers for Scotland, which included devolution of contracted employment support. The DWP contracts for both Work Programme and Work Choice expired on 31 March 2017 and devolved services commenced from 3rd April 2017.
2.2 The Scottish Government carried out a consultation exercise on the shape and design of the devolved services in 2015. A total of 215 responses were received and these have been drawn on in the design and development of the new services. A set of key values and principles provide the foundation for the new services. The key values are:
- Dignity and respect
- Fairness and Equality
- Continuous Improvement.
2.3 The principles of the Scottish approach is based on the principles of:
- Delivery of a flexible 'whole person' approach
- Services that are responsive to those with high needs
- A drive towards real jobs
- Services designed and delivered in partnership
- Services designed nationally but adapted and delivered locally
- Contracts that combine payment by job outcome and progression towards work.
2.4 Scottish Ministers agreed a one-year transition period from April 2017 in advance of the full devolved Scottish service being launched in April 2018. The focus of the transition year has been on continuity of support for those who are unemployed and facing significant barriers to work, whilst at the same time capturing lessons to inform the development of the full devolved Scottish service.
2.5 The transition year services are made up of two programmes:
- Work First Scotland ( WFS) will deliver employment support to up to 3,300 disabled people. The programme is being delivered through new contracts between the Scottish Government and the existing DWP Work Choice providers – Remploy, Momentum Skills and Shaw Trust.
- Work Able Scotland ( WAS) will deliver support to up to 1,500 people with a health condition who want to move into employment. Skills Development Scotland are responsible for the procurement and management of WAS. Following a competitive procurement process, contracts were awarded to the Wise Group, Remploy and Progress Scotland.
2.6 The fully devolved Scottish support service (Fair Start Scotland) will replace the transitional arrangements from April 2018. The aim of the current review is to provide timely feedback on the development and early implementation of the transition year experience, in order to inform the development and roll-out of Fair Start Scotland. The findings will also contribute to continuous improvement of policy and service design and delivery and to ensuring value for money from procurement of future employability service contracts from 2021 onwards.