Renfrewshire Council

10. Providing the opportunities and integrated support parents need to enter, sustain and progress in work

Local Employability Partnership

Renfrewshire Local Employability Partnership (RLEP) is the local strategic employability partnership consisting of partner agencies from the Renfrewshire community planning structure. It is chaired by Renfrewshire Council and its purpose is to support the implementation of local and national employability policy (including No One Left Behind and the Young Persons Guarantee) through collective leadership, joint planning and co-commissioning. In doing so, the partnership, working closely with local delivery partners, makes best use of resources available to deliver effective needs-led employability services that help Renfrewshire residents make a successful transition towards employment and reduce unemployment in the area.

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic had a massive impact on the rate and number of residents out of work in Renfrewshire as can be seen on the chart below. At its peak in August 2021 (6.8% equating to 7,765 residents) Renfrewshire was above both the Scottish and UK levels. The very strong local partnership working during the pandemic has greatly helped the recovery process and the figure has reduced significantly to 4,365, 3.8% (February 2022) now below the Scottish rate of 3.9%

RLEP is committed to reducing those inequalities that exist in relation to employment between different geographic areas and for different groups who face significant barriers to work. Success as a Partnership goes beyond reducing unemployment at a Renfrewshire level to reducing the gaps that exist for these areas and groups.

Recognising the key contribution that employability services can make to tackling child poverty, RLEP's performance framework includes a range of indicators to help measure progress in relation to increasing income from employment of parents with low income as well as other outcomes and indicators such as tackling youth unemployment and increasing the disability employment rate and increasing engagement and positive outcomes for all RLEP priority groups. RLEP s Employability Delivery Plan for 2022-25 provides more detail on this.

Renfrewshire HSCP health improvement team chair the RLEP health conditions and recovery group. This group focuses on those in recovery from health conditions and brings together and supports services while identifying gaps to people accessing support to work or in-work support. With adults with a disability within a household being an indicator of child poverty, this group also looks at support for those with a disability and those in recovery from addictions and mental health illness.

Parental Employment Support

There has been significant effort and resources contributed by the Scottish Government and local employability partners working in partnership with local employers from the public, private and third sectors to support parental employment

In 2019, the Scottish Government launched a Parental Employment Support Fund (PESF) to target both employed and unemployed families who face barriers to progressing their careers, including help to gain qualifications, improving skills or work experience; money advice, and motivational support. This support is intended to increase annual income, lifting families out of poverty. PESF provides person-centred help for parents to address their barriers to work, which might include a lack of skills or work experience, health support, money advice, or motivational support.  

Renfrewshire Council's employability service Invest in Renfrewshire is the key delivery partner for PESF working closely in partnership with RLEP members and other local organisations.

PESF provides the flexible and user-based model of delivery that supports parents into work as well as helping those already in work to increase their household income.

The programme provides:

  • person-centred help for parents to address their barriers to work, which might include a lack of skills or work experience, health support, money advice, confidence building or motivational support; childcare advice and assistance
  • targeted support to tackle the increased challenge of in-work poverty by helping parents already in work through the provision of training and employability support to remain active in the workplace and gain progression through a rewarding career
  • confidential income and money advice which includes: benefit checks and help with any claim processes; better off in work calculations; help with debts as these can be a barrier to work; creation of a bespoke budget for the family; budgeting skills support to ensure long lasting effect.

Parents are supported to gain new skills, qualifications and assist with job applications and compiling a CV and frequency of support is based on individual need. For the majority of the reporting year, due to Coronavirus (COVID-19), contact was carried out remotely by telephone and on-line however face to face support was gradually introduced as restrictions eased early 2022.

92 parents (64 of these lone parents) were supported during 2021/22 and the majority were female and within the 30 to 39 age bracket.

When registering with the service clients identify with several different barriers that they feel hold them back when trying to enter employment. The main types of barriers to employment that were raised were:

Living in a jobless household with dependent children (56) and living in a single parent household (55), with from an employment deprived area being the next most identified barrier (41). Nine clients identified themselves as under employed. The barriers identified show the importance of support around childcare and specific advice for unemployed parents.

As can be seen from the graph below over half of the clients registered with the service also identify as having no advanced qualifications.

Increasing the qualifications of current parents who are unemployed, combined with the benefits of improved attainment for our children will help more of our families of the future live free from poverty.

Over and above the 92 parents who engaged with employability support in the reporting period, advisors were also supporting parents who had registered the previous year. This support has resulted in 37 parents gaining a qualification, 23 starting part-time employment and 35 starting full-time employment.

A key challenge which has not reduced significantly in the reporting period has been services' ability to engage parents. While online support had been readily available, it doesn't suit all. Home schooling has had a significant impact on parents and the target groups for PESF are amongst the hardest hit (lone parents and parents with three or more children). One of our main areas of focus in the coming year will be finding out what is holding people back from considering work as a good option for them and what messages could we use to help change mind sets and behaviours and increase the number of Renfrewshire residents who are currently economically inactive or unemployed coming forward for advice and help. Focus groups will take place with residents early in 2022/23.

 The Young Persons Guarantee and Child Poverty

There is a clear link between youth employment and child poverty. The Young Person's Guarantee is a commitment to bring together employers, partners and young people. It aims to connect every 16 to 24-year-old in Scotland to an opportunity. This could be a job, apprenticeship, further or higher education, training or volunteering. Successful delivery of the Scottish Government's Young Persons Guarantee in Renfrewshire is evidenced by achievement of the overarching key objective to reduce unemployment to pre-Cornavirus (CPVID-19) levels. As at 1 April 2022, there are 680 young people claiming out of work benefits. At the height of the pandemic, this had risen to 1,585. There are now 75 fewer young people claiming out-of-work benefits than in February 2020 (pre-coronavirus).

Renfrewshire's youth employment rate (now 67.4%) has seen the biggest growth across all 32 local authority areas over the last 10 years and is the second highest in Scotland.

Details of Renfrewshire's successful work across youth unemployment is at Appendix A.

In addition, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde has created Kickstart opportunities within its facilities team, which it will evaluate in 2022/23, and is supporting the ongoing recruitment and support of modern apprentices aligned to its workforce plan.

Within the recently published Scottish Government's child poverty delivery plan, there is a stronger focus on parental employment than in previous versions, with significant levels of resource being allocated to support this. Full detail on local allocations of funding and expectations on the RLEP and local partners is awaited and actions will be outlined within the RLEP delivery plan.

It commits to providing the opportunities and integrated support parents need to enter, sustain and progress in work. RLEP will play a key role in managing delivery in Renfrewshire and ensuring a coordinated approach that best meets the needs of local families. Renfrewshire already has a strong track record in supporting parents into and within work and new activity will build on what has worked best.


Renfrewshire Council is committed to maximising community benefits through its procurement activities by including specific community benefit clauses and targets within procurement contracts. These cover payment of the Living Wage as well as targeted employment and training opportunities. Fair work practices in areas such as zero hour contracts and worker representation are also scored.

Community benefits are targeted to child poverty priority groups and evaluated as part of the tendering process and monitored on a quarterly basis.

In 2021/22, 198 community benefits were realised from council contracts.

Community Benefit Type

Number Offered

Community engagement activities


Support for social enterprises (Financial and Non-Financial)


Other sustainable procurement benefits


Supply chain opportunities and business advice/support to SMEs, Social Enterprises and Voluntary organisations




Number of Qualifications Achieved Through Training by Other Employees


Number of Qualifications Achieved Through Training by Priority Groups




Number of apprenticeships filled by priority groups


Number of jobs filled by priority groups


Number of work placements for priority groups


Number of work placements for school pupils, college and university students


Total number of apprenticeships recruited to deliver contract


Total number recruited to deliver contract


Grand Total


NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) is also working to increase community benefits as part of its community wealth building approach. The health board has initiated work with public health colleagues on the Health Anchors Learning Network (HALN) project to encourage more local small to medium enterprises (SMEs) to become suppliers to the board and focus on increasing diversity. Current NHSGGC spend across the health board is £77m and in 2020/21 it was £13,866,596 in Renfrewshire alone. In the coming year they will continue work on the HALN project and look to increase their local spend above 12%.

Economic Recovery Plan

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has had a significant impact on the UK, Scottish and Renfrewshire economies. It has impacted upon numerous key economic sectors, including those which are important to Renfrewshire residents and businesses, such as manufacturing, aviation and hospitality. In response last year, an economic recovery plan for Renfrewshire for the period December 2020 to December 2022 was prepared in conjunction with and approved by Renfrewshire's Economic Leadership Panel.

The plan promoted actions under six themes:

  • supporting our young people
  • supporting business and their workforce
  • economic wellbeing, skills and employability
  • capital investment
  • green recovery.

These themes link with the key outcomes of the recently published Scottish Government's Coronavirus (COVID-19) recovery strategy, which looks to achieve financial security for low-income households, promote wellbeing of children and young people and create good, green jobs and fair work.

From these overarching themes, 14 priority actions were included in the plan (which were thought would make the largest difference to the local economy and would specifically address the economic challenges arising from the pandemic) and progress against these is being monitored. The council's Children's Services work with colleagues via the Renfrewshire economic recovery group to deliver the priority work around supporting our young people' detailed in the economic recovery plan. This work focusses on youth employment, promoting enterprise and entrepreneurial activity in Renfrewshire's high schools and supporting the most vulnerable to move into positive destinations post school.

Economic Recovery Funding

In February 2022, the Scottish Government provided £80m to local authorities to provide support to businesses and low-income households. The purpose of this funding is to support business recovery and cost of living impacts on low-income households. Renfrewshire has received £2.654million to support a number of initiatives and deliver interventions that best meet that local need. Levels of funding and numbers supported will be changed according to demand.

Through grant support to businesses, estimates of outcomes are as follows:

  • 230 businesses financially supported to grow and develop
  • 80 young people secure additional 6 months employment through a Kickstart Plus programme
  • 250 universal credit claimants supported to get skills/qualifications 
  • 600 universal credit claimants financially supported to work/search for work through free travel for 3 months
  • 200 families in receipt of benefits financially supported to move into work
  • 1,000 people experiencing financial insecurity as a result of the cost of living crisis to receive hardship payments of £100.

Fair Work Renfrewshire

The social renewal Plan funded Fair Work Renfrewshire service was launched in October by Renfrewshire Citizens Advice Bureau. This £100,000, two-year project provides employment advice to support clients to retain employment wherever possible and where this is not possible, ensure they are supported to obtain their full redundancy entitlement as well as access the correct benefits.

137 clients have used the service in the first six months and the issues the service has supported clients with include pay and entitlements, dismissal and terms and conditions of employment. 


Excellent progress has been made in relation to the implementation of 1140 hours of high-quality early learning and childcare for all eligible children across Renfrewshire, which helps support families into work. Since August 2021, all children aged three to five-years-old and eligible two-year-olds are in receipt of this provision, in accordance with Scottish Government legislation. This success was achieved despite the challenges presented by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and consequential impact on necessary infrastructure development.

Community Learning and Development

The Renfrewshire Community Learning and Development strategy for 2021-24 was developed in collaboration with a wide range of partner organisations, third sector groups and individual service users across Renfrewshire. The Strategy recognises the impacts of the pandemic on disadvantaged learners and communities, including people with low incomes or who are in more insecure employment. It also highlights particular concerns around the health and wellbeing of local people, particularly in relation to loneliness and isolation and the impact that this can have on mental health and wellbeing.

Through engagement with members and workers from community groups, projects and services information was gathered on how the lockdown and restrictions were impacting on children, adults, and families. Insights were gained through these community conversations around the challenges ahead, shaping the community learning and development strategy and identifying the key actions that will be taken to support individuals and communities impacted by Coronavirus (COVID-19).

The key priorities identified were:

  • social isolation and loneliness
  • interruption of learning
  • mental health and wellbeing
  • loss
  • bereavement
  • poverty
  • low income
  • food insecurity
  • fuel poverty
  • digital exclusion.

The Scottish Government recognises that community learning and development practitioners have a vital role to play in rebuilding from the pandemic and responding to the new challenges ahead, and that community learning and development support is made available to assist disadvantaged communities to recover from the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. In Renfrewshire, the community learning and development partnership took a pro-active approach to re-engage communities and reach out to individuals and targeted groups and communities.

The Community Based Adult Learning Fund provided an opportunity for the Renfrewshire community learning and development partnership to enter a phase of delivering recovery and response to our communities, focussing particularly on targeted groups who are identified as being vulnerable to and most impacted by the pandemic, such as women, carers, black and minority ethnic (BAME) community, families with additional support needs (ASN), adults and families experiencing hardship.

Through an outreach programme with a number of partners learners identified an overall improvement in their wellbeing and a reduction in feelings of isolation as a result meeting, being active and learning together. The groups have decided to continue exploring further adult learning opportunities together.

Renfrewshire Health and Social Care Partnership supports local members of the community furthest from the labour market to access volunteering opportunities within NHS settings and to seek further opportunities using Engage Renfrewshire supports. Local people from Renfrewshire are part of core volunteering team within NHSGGC increasing their confidence and skills and supporting them along the employability pipeline.

Free Bus Travel - NEC

More fully detailed under 'Maximising the Support Available for families to Lead Dignified Lives and meet Their Basic Needs', entitlement to free bus travel can also assist with transport costs for young people attending work. Through our youth services team, support is offered to those older young people through increasing the number of appropriate trusted verifiers for that group. These include our employability service, Invest in Renfrewshire, social work and residential units and information has been provided to West College Scotland and University of West Scotland to highlight the application process to students.  Those who can't follow the standard processes have the option of getting in touch with youth services who will offer alternative solutions based on their need.

Renfrewshire has received praise for its network of trusted verifiers and taking the approach of setting up an easy access point for organisations working with young who experience barriers to access. In the 19 to 21-year-old age bracket, 5,851 young people in Renfrewshire are eligible and we will continue to support access to the scheme.

Transport Strategy

Our refreshed transport strategy will be published during 2022/23. This refresh gives us an opportunity to focus on maximising sustainable transport opportunities to deliver an inclusive, reliable, affordable transport system that provides choice for all. This will include a focus on eliminating transport poverty and ensuring everyone has safe and affordable transportation to access services and social activities as well as employment.