Scotland's Work First Programme will be voluntary

Scotland's Employability Minister, Jamie Hepburn, has confirmed that the £14 million Work First Scotland programme, which will provide employment support for 3,300 disabled people, will be voluntary and will not use the threat of sanctions. 

It will be run by Shaw Trust, Momentum Scotland and Remploy and the contract award is one of the first exercises of devolved powers under the Scotland Act 2016. The initial contract will run from April 2017 and a full Scottish programme of employment support is due to start in April 2018.

Mr 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 help is based on people's needs. The fact our service will be voluntary will mean people can access support without the threat of sanctions hanging over them."

Alistair Kerr, BASE NEC member and director of partnerships at The Shaw Trust, said:
“This is an unique opportunity for The Scottish Government and key stakeholders to develop individually tailored employability support services for people in Scotland, who have an ambition to work, but due to health conditions or personal unique circumstances would find it challenging to achieve. The new devolved powers provide the foundation to realise individual ambitions and expectations in a modern day labour market in Scotland.”

Steve Black, head of operations at Momentum Skills, added:
“With a highly successful past in supporting disabled people in to work, Momentum Scotland is excited to bring its knowledge and expertise to this innovative new employability approach, which will lead to creating a fairer Scotland that meets the needs of Scotland’s people, communities and economy”.