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26 August, 2020 Open access

Fair Start Scotland ‘start rate’ increased to more than 80 per cent during COVID-19 lockdown

New statistical analysis suggests that increase may be linked to 'changing referral sources', with the DWP having paused referrals during the pandemic

The Fair Start Scotland 'start rate' increased to more than 80 per cent during the COVID-19 lockdown, according to new statistics published by the Scottish Government.

NB - launched in April 2018, Fair Start Scotland is designed to support people in Scotland who face a range of challenges in obtaining work, including people with a disability or health condition, people with convictions, care-experienced young people, single parents, refugees, ethnic minorities, and people who live in some of the most deprived areas in Scotland.

The new statistical release, that covers the period to the end of June 2020, reports on the number of referrals, starts and job outcomes for Fair Start Scotland, including for a period when Scotland was subject to public health measures to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

As a result, the new figures highlight that, compared to April to June 2019, the number of Fair Start Scotland referrals in April to June 2020 were 39 per cent lower, and the number of starts on the programme were 25 per cent lower. This decrease, the Scottish Government suggests, can be associated with the DWP (the main referring organisation) pausing referrals into Fair Start Scotland at the start of the COVID-19 lockdown period to respond to the increase in demand for benefit claims.

However, the new figures also highlight that, while 58 per cent of referrals in Fair Start Scotland's first year went on to start on the programme, rising to 70 per cent in the second year, in the latest quarter (April to June 2020) the start rate has increased to at least 82 per cent.

This, the Scottish Government says, may be linked to 'changing referral sources' during the COVID-19 lockdown period, with referrals into the programme continuing through avenues other than the DWP, for example through the 'marketing efforts' of those providing Fair Start Scotland services.

For more information, see Scotland's Devolved Employment Services: statistical summary from