Scottish Government work programme will fail says SCVO

Scottish Government work programme will fail says SCVO
The Force News, by Susan Smith


People with multiple barriers to employment will not get enough support under the Scottish Government’s new employment programme says charities.


Charities and voluntary organisations working to help long-term unemployed people find jobs have said the Scottish Government’s new support programme will not work.


The Scottish Government has taken over responsibility from Westminster for helping people struggling to find work because of multiple barriers under newly devolved powers.


It aims to create a fairer system for people who want to work but find getting a job hard because of disability, ill health, poor education or issues such as immigration.


However, at a conference in Edinburgh today, the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) stated the Scottish Government’s new Fair Start Scotland system will fail because it does not guarantee enough personalised support for people.


The body representing third sector organisations said small and medium sized charities are best at providing the kind of long-term personalised support that these people need to find jobs.


However, the new programme makes it hard for charities to win the work to deliver this support. As a result, the programme is in danger of making the same mistakes as Westminster’s controversial Work Programme, through which just 24% of participants found work.


SCVO’s director of public affairs John Downie said: “The Scottish Government has not been innovative enough to guarantee personalised support for all individuals and much of the commissioning process continues to shut-out small and medium sized charities.


“Without high-quality specialised support from third sector organisations, the Scottish Government will not be successful in their quest to focus on those furthest from the labour market. Charities of all sizes must be at the heart of these programmes.”


Downie was speaking at the Joined Up For Jobs partnership forum meeting following the publication of an SCVO report into the new system.


Third sector employment organisations consistently demonstrate excellent results from their employment programmes. Community Jobs Scotland, a third sector service that supports long-term unemployed young people into work has a 66% success rate, for example, while the Bridges Programme, which works with refugees, asylum seeker and migrants, has a 61% success rate.


Downie outlined SCVO’s belief that the Fair Start Scotland programme has a number of flaws and barriers that prevent charities getting involved, not least that it focuses on payment by results. This means that small charities would only receive payment after they have found work for a person.


Instead, SCVO believes the system should recognise key progress steps that people make towards employment, such as carrying out training or volunteering.


Downie added: “The commissioning process for Fair Start Scotland has missed an important opportunity to explore the concept of person centred services.”


Minister for employability and training Jamie Hepburn said: “We are creating a future programme that is flexible, tailored, and responsive to the needs of Scotland’s unemployed people. Employment services should be designed nationally, and adapted at a local level to meet local needs and labour market conditions – and we are putting this approach into action.


“The third sector is critical in the delivery of employment support services and plays a key role on our independently chaired Scotland’s Devolved Employment Services Advisory Group, a group that reflects a broad range of interests including academics, local authorities, employers and national agencies.


“The Third Sector Employability Forum were regularly consulted during the design stage of Fair Start Scotland and the SCVO attended both the pre-market event and post tender.”