New employment support powers.
David McQuade - November 28, 2016

The first contract under newly devolved employment support powers will be awarded by the Scottish Government tomorrow (Thursday Nov. 24).

In one of the first exercises of devolved powers under the Scotland Act 2016, the £14 million Work First Scotland programme will deliver employment support for 3,300 disabled people, including pre-work and in-work support. It will be a voluntary service delivered locally using public, third sector and private capabilities, by three organisations: The Shaw Trust, Momentum Scotland and Remploy.

An initial one-year contract will come into effect from April 2017 to provide continuity of support for those who need it most. This is a significant step towards the full Scottish programme of employment support starting in April 2018.

Additionally, the UK Government has confirmed that DWP will make referrals to devolved employments programs on a voluntary basis, meaning that a benefit sanction would not be applied for failure to attend or participate in the programme.

Speaking ahead of the Summit on Employability tomorrow, the Minister for Employability and Training Jamie Hepburn said:

“This represents a significant step on the journey towards a distinctly Scottish employability service from 2018.

Work First Scotland will realise opportunities within devolution to improve the services we offer, while ensuring people receiving these services experience a seamless transition as well as continuous support.

I want people to be able to have a say in the service they receive and we have consulted extensively to ensure our helping is based on people’s needs.

The UK Government’s confirmation that it will not impose sanctions on people takig part in our voluntary programmes will be a great relief to people who have had to cope with this unnecessary stress and harm in the past.

I am delighted that the Scottish Government can give people an assurance that they will not be sanctioned through our employment programmes, and we can now show that they are an opportunity and not a threat.

At the heart of this process is a desire to create a fairer, more prosperous country. This is an exciting and significant step in our plans to ensure employment support in Scotland meets the needs of unemployed people and helps businesses find the skilled, committed and able people they need to thrive.”