As many as 4,800 people with health conditions and disabilities will receive help to get into work without the threat of sanctions in the first year of new Scottish employment services.
Employment support is one of the first powers to be devolved through the Scotland Act 2016. From April 3 the transitional services – Work First Scotland and Work Able Scotland will deliver this support.
Individuals can volunteer to participate in these services, by contacting their local Jobcentre Plus centres. The 12 month service precede the full devolved service – Fair Start Scotland – which will operate from 2018 for three years.
The newly devolved powers set out that:
- Services will be voluntary, meaning people can participate without risk of Department of Work and Pensions sanction
- £20 million additional funding will be available in 2017 – 18 to ensure continuity of support
- Work First Scotland will help up to 3,300 disabled people find work and stay in work
- Work Able Scotland will help up to 1,500 people with long term health conditions find work and stay in work
From 2018 Fair Start Scotland is expected to help a minimum of 38,000 people who want to find work. Contracts worth £96 million are currently out for tender on provision of this service which will be consistent across Scotland but delivered locally over nine contract areas, with the potential to respond to local needs. There will also be on-going work to align with Jobcentre Plus and health services.
Minister for Employability and Training Jamie Hepburn said:
Our distinctly Scottish approach to helping people into work will be more flexible, tailored and easier to access. And our priority in the initial year is to provide continuity of support to people who are unemployed and face significant barriers to work.
The new devolved services will have fairness, dignity and respect at their core, which will create a strong platform for us to build on for the full roll-out in 2018.
In Scotland we will look to ease some of the stress of job hunting, by making our services voluntary, which is different to the mandatory arrangements in place for the rest of the UK.
We believe voluntary participation will let us get the best out of people as without the threat of sanctions they will see the services as an opportunity to gain new skills through supportive training and coaching.
By aligning our programmes with existing health and social care support we can be more joined up which will ultimately reduce pressure on other public services.
Over the next 12 months we will listen to people who use the services so we can continue to make improvements to this new person-centred approach.