Employment Support

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 4th October 2017.

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Photo of Jamie Hepburn Jamie Hepburn Scottish National Party

On the precise percentage of contract value going to the private sector, I will be happy to follow up in writing, but I can tell Jackie Baillie that there is a roughly equal division between the third sector and the private sector and that, when we factor in the public sector and supported businesses, there is a clear majority for the other sectors.

On Ms Baillie’s final point, about opportunities to be flexible, I think that I made clear to the Economy, Jobs and Fair Work Committee that flexibility is important. Ms Baillie will understand that, in the awarding of contracts, there is only so much that we can do. However, there is the possibility to be flexible as circumstances change, for example by looking at the criteria for referral to a programme. That is important, and it speaks to our longer-term agenda of better aligning our various offerings on employability and employment support.

I utterly refute the member’s suggestion that we are copying the Tory model and I will run through the range of ways in which our approach is different from what has gone before and what we expect to happen with the UK Government’s work and health programme. Jackie Baillie said that she shares our ambition to have a voluntary service; our service will be voluntary, which was not the case with the previous programme and will not be the case with work and health. On consistency of service, we have laid out very clearly a minimum expectation of providers; that was not the case with UK Government programmes in the past and is not expected to be the case with the work and health programme—