Implementation Review of Devolved Employment Services 2017

As recommended by the Smith Commission, powers over certain employability services were devolved to the Scottish Government through the Scotland Act 2016. Powers were commenced in September 2016, with transitional employment services introduced in April 2017. These were designed to support up to 4,800 people with health conditions and disabilities into work before the full devolved service (Fair Start Scotland) launches in April 2018.

The aim of the review was to provide timely feedback on the development and early implementation of the transition year services, namely Work First Scotland (WFS) and Work Able Scotland (WAS). The key questions to be addressed were: what worked well; what worked less well and what would improve the pre-delivery and initial implementation phases in future. The findings were used to inform the development of Fair Start Scotland, as well as continuous improvement of policy and service design and delivery.

The review found the Governance structures for the new programmes to be working well. This was a new area of activity for Scottish Government, but it had built its capacity to deliver in a fairly short period of time. This was helped through secondments and recruitment from the Department for Work and Pensions, as well as advice and guidance from other stakeholders and partners, such as Skills Development Scotland. 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 created the opportunity to learn about a range of issues, which will benefit the full devolved programme starting in 2018.

The programmes were both launched on time and relatively smoothly. Given that they were new, and that this was a new area of activity for the Scottish Government, this was a significant positive achievement. Moreover, the experience of going through the design, development and implementation process provided valuable learning for the launch of future programmes.

As might be expected for the introduction of two new programmes, there were some issues and challenges. These mainly centred on the interaction between the various partners involved, who have had to establish new ways of working together. This is an ongoing process and the review found evidence of improvement, with the various stakeholders finding increasingly effective ways of working together.

For more information regarding the project, please contact SQW's Project Director, Graham Thom

Download the full report here.