SAMH Comment: Fair Start Scotland

29th March 2018

Following Tuesday’s (27th) debate in the Scottish Parliament about the Fair Start Scotland initiative, SAMH confirms that, with regret, we have chosen not to proceed with the Fair Start contract in the West.

We believe employment is an equalities issue for people with mental health problems; mental ill health accounts for the biggest group of people unable to work due to sickness.

That’s why we are committed to delivering the most effective programmes to help people with mental health problems back into work. SAMH campaigned for Fair Start Scotland to include a guarantee that the Individual Placement and Support (IPS)* model, which has the best evidence base for supporting people with mental health issues into employment, would be available under Fair Start Scotland. 

We were delighted when the Scottish Government accepted our recommendation and required companies contracted to deliver Fair Start Scotland to provide IPS in their area. People with mental health problems have been poorly served by previous UK Government employment programmes and we had high hopes that the approach in Scotland would be far better. 

SAMH and partners in the West entered into negotiations in good faith; however, it was not possible to deliver IPS under the existing Fair Start Scotland funding model. 

Billy Watson, Chief Executive for SAMH said:

“We are not prepared to compromise the quality of our employment provision, so regrettably we have chosen not to proceed with the contract. 

“We cannot see how it is possible for any organisation to deliver IPS properly within the funding structure that exists for Fair Start Scotland.

“We hope we are wrong and we look to Scottish Government to demonstrate that true IPS will be available to people with mental health problems in the new system.”

*Individual Placement and Support (IPS) places people into employment first, then supports and trains the employee as well as providing support to the employer. It has been repeatedly shown to be an effective intervention across a variety of settings and economic conditions and is more than twice as likely to lead to competitive employment for people with mental health problems when compared with traditional vocational rehabilitation. SAMH research of IPS clients demonstrated the additional benefits of a reduced need for psychiatric and CPN appointments, greater social inclusion and financial autonomy.