I thank the minister for the advance copy of his statement, and I welcome the progress that has been made in developing fair start Scotland. Like the Scottish Government, Labour is committed to a person-centred, tailored, voluntary approach that is based on meeting individuals’ needs.
I have three questions for the minister. First—and this is very specific—can he tell us what percentage of contract value has been awarded to the private sector and what percentage is going solely to the third sector, so that we can establish whether the approach meets the Government’s ambition to have a mixed market of support?
Secondly, will the minister explain why he copied the Tory Government’s approach to the work programme by having a payment-by-results system? The concern is, of course, that providers will focus on early wins and people who are closest to the labour market, leaving those with significant barriers without sufficient support.
Finally, many people will welcome five-year funding, but let me sound a note of caution. What opportunities will there be to refocus the contracts if they do not perform as required?