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A Working Life for All Disabled People: The Supported Employment Framework for Scotland: Summary Report


3. The Framework

What does the Framework aim to do?

This Framework is aimed at Supported Employment provision delivered by Community Planning Partnerships ( CPPs), Local Authorities and the Third Sector. The Framework recognises the role of DWP in helping disabled people back into work and aims to complement and add value to DWP programmes. A Framework and set of quality standards already exist for all DWP provision through its contracts with providers, so this Framework does not apply to DWP provision.

Much of the current interventions to assist people into employment are driven by DWP and take the form of specific programmes. The Task Group acknowledged that while there has been substantial investment by both the UK Government and the Scottish Government in employment initiatives, there continues to be challenges in providing support for those furthest from the labour market who have severe disabilities or long-term health conditions. This large and very diverse group of people tend to get caught in the training cycle, rarely making the transition from training into employment. The challenge for them moving into work becomes greater with each unsuccessful intervention, and the Task Group is therefore keen to ensure that all interventions are consistent and person-centred.

This Supported Employment Framework for Scotland is aimed at targeting those individuals and providing the mechanisms necessary to support their move to employment in a systematic and effective way. That involves raising the standards of service, underpinned by sustainable funding.

Implementing these changes will take time and a staged approach will be required to develop the Framework. The model for delivering Supported Employment in Scotland is detailed below.

Supported Employment Stages - supporting the aspiration towards 16+ hours of work

Engagement by SE Service

Vocational Profiling

Job Finding

Employer Engagement

On/Off the Job Support and Aftercare

Helping disabled people most distanced from the labour market to make informed choices on their own future

Identifying skills and preferences for work, giving work experiences that will help the individual make their own vocational choices

Identifying the preferred job through employer engagement, also providing support to the employer

Finding out about the workplace environment, co-workers and the 'supports' a person might need

Providing help, information and backup to the employee and their employer, developing independence through natural supports in the workplace and addressing career progression in due course

What changes will it make?

The success of the Framework depends on a strong commitment and a partnership approach from all the agencies involved in supporting disabled people to secure paid work. It also requires a move away from segregated services and programmes to a more flexible and dynamic person-centred approach where paid employment is considered a realistic and achievable outcome.

Specifically, this requires action across three main areas:

1. Setting national standards

The lack of an agreed set of national 'Industry Standards' means there is little consistency in how supported employment services operate. This means quality is difficult to gauge and significant variations exist in access, process, delivery, outcomes and various monitoring arrangements in use in Scotland.

There are challenges in setting standards but they are an important part of ensuring the correct service is being delivered by the right provider in the best possible way. Standards will ensure the best possible outcomes for the most effective use of resources benefiting both funders and disabled people seeking jobs.

The Framework commits the Scottish Government and COSLA to jointly work with local authorities, Community Planning Partners and Supported Employment services to establish an agreed national data set and develop quality indicators for Supported Employment in Scotland.

Once agreed, these will be used by services to evaluate their own performance. Initially every organisation delivering Supported Employment services will be encouraged to undertake self-evaluation to establish how it is meeting the principles of Supported Employment. Self-evaluation is an opportunity for providers to examine their performance and can support the improvement of services in a continuous way. It needs to focus on recognising achievements and opportunities for improvement which may be gradual or transformational but must be based on robust evidence.

The findings from the self-evaluation questionnaire will be documented and evaluated on a four point scale ranging through outstanding, good, satisfactory and weak. Action plans for improvement will then be formulated where needed, using the information and evidence gathered.

In the longer term the aim would be that the self-evaluations should be subject to peer evaluations but before that can be done the standards need to be embedded and widely used. In the short to medium terms the self-evaluations need to be externally evaluated and funders and commissioners should give careful consideration to how they can support organisations to undertake informed self-evaluations.

Local authorities should consider the inclusion of performance information about Supported Employment services as part of their performance reporting process and performance management framework.

2. Ensuring consistency in service delivery

Staff training and development are crucial factors in ensuring the delivery of consistent, high quality services. The lack of standards and guidelines for Supported Employment in Scotland has impacted significantly on the workforce and has led to the lack of a consistent or coherent approach to staff training or development. The scoping exercise also found a wide variation in qualifications among staff across the country.

The Framework includes proposals for improving the recruitment and training of staff together with developing their skills. Recruiting the right staff for Employment Support Worker posts is critical to the success of the service and the job outcomes achieved by individuals who use it. A generic person specification and job description for these posts has been developed as part of the Framework.

Appropriate training structures will also be required to allow staff to understand and work effectively to the new national standards that are to be developed. The proposed training programme will be subject to formal accreditation as part of the Scottish Credit and Qualification Framework. It is anticipated that, once the competencies are finalised and the training programme is in place, all existing Employment Support Workers should be encouraged and given the opportunity to complete the programme and gain accreditation within three years.

Competencies for staff will also be developed within each of the stages of the Supported Employment process.

This work will help to raise standards in service delivery and increase opportunities for those who work in Supported Employment. It will be linked to the quality standards and should lead to better outcomes for disabled people who need additional support into employment.

3. Ensuring sustainable funding

Funding for Supported Employment usually consists of funding in part or in kind by the local authority with the remainder coming from sources such as European Social Funds, The Big Lottery or grant-giving trusts. This cocktail of funding makes long-term planning difficult and affects the sustainability of services. Unfortunately, the future will present further challenges. Significant new pressures on local authority budgets combined with reductions being experienced in European and Lottery funding opportunities affect the funding landscape. Although investment in Supported Employment provision may look expensive compared to other mainstream services, when it is viewed from a client journey perspective it is comparable to other interventions. The Supported Employment Framework model presents an option which might be cheaper and more cost effective in the long term and this will be tested during the implementation of the Framework.

It is therefore crucial that Community Planning Partners take
a strategic look at how disabled unemployed people are supported into work and should not rule out investments in Supported Employment which, at face value, can look expensive, but which will have significant long-term gains. Existing provision can be more effectively developed to achieve better outcomes for both the individuals and the services. It will need an examination of social care service arrangements to ensure a focus on employment outcomes for disabled people and those with long-term conditions can be achieved.

An economic analysis conducted into Supported Employment services in North Lanarkshire 6 found that it cost £7,216 to place a disabled person in paid employment. This compares with the annual cost of day care of almost £15,000 per person. Based on these figures, savings of £54 million could be made by moving 7,500 people from day care into employment, with added benefits for the individuals concerned.

Despite the evidence of the 'best value' argument for Supported Employment services, the model has always remained on the periphery of UK and Scottish centralised funding allocations. The responsibility for ensuring the continuation of the service has fallen to local authorities who, in partnership with voluntary and charitable organisations, have shown great ingenuity in managing to sustain the provision to date.

The challenge for the future is to pool and align the money already invested in Supported Employment with other budgets such as health, social care, economic development and economic regeneration to improve provision. This will allow services to target those who have employment as a real aspiration and to benefit from additional released resources created by successful Supported Employment provision.

The Framework suggests those resources be allocated, performance managed and accounted for within a joined up local arrangement to ensure most effective use and improved outcomes for both the funders and the individuals seeking employment.

What are the critical success factors?

There are a number of critical success factors involved in making Supported Employment successful in Scotland.

Strong leadership
Continued strong and effective leadership by local authorities, along
with a clear role for Community Planning Partners which drives an inclusive agenda is absolutely critical.

Effective positioning
Effective positioning of Supported Employment within mainstream employment services, and the recognition and resourcing of Supported Employment across Community Planning Partners, is necessary to ensure it is a viable option for those who need it.

Funding commitment
A clear commitment is needed to consider how funding can become sustainable and long term to increase stability, forward planning and integration to provide more and better job outcomes. This includes consideration of realigning existing funding streams.

The model and stages
The preferred model of Supported Employment is a staged approach of engagement; vocational profiling; job finding; employer engagement and job support. This is central to recognising Supported Employment as an employment
service that will focus on job outcomes for people.

Clarity of outcome
A focus on reducing dependency on welfare benefits, with a strong commitment to 16+ hours per week as the employment outcome is desirable. Voluntary work or unpaid work as an outcome on its own is not the objective of Supported Employment services but is recognised as a contribution to people's journey to work.

Clarity of responsibility
Clarity of responsibility and outcomes at each stage of the process is the aim. People must have intensive individual support through skilled Employment Support Workers with the agreed relocation
to an appropriate service beyond six months support.

Welfare benefits
Advice on welfare benefits and financial capability arrangements must be an integral part of Supported Employment provision. A failure to cope with the financial implications of the transition from benefits into employment can cause significant challenges to an individual's ability to retain employment and to cope with the changes in their circumstances.