When the Scottish Government announced its new employability programme Fair Start Scotland last year there was dismay from some charities and from their umbrella organisation SCVO.

Consultations,as well as the rhetoric from ministers had encouraged many in the voluntary sector to think the approach being taken was going to be radically different from the UK Government’s dysfunctional and widely despised Work Programme.

But the list of providers which emerged in the nine contract areas was not what charities expected. Many of the names of big private providers were familiar, and those which wern’t were actually familiar names in disguise. (A4E has risen again as People Plus Group - but minus, of course, the six former members of staff jailed for for defrauding the taxpayer).

Much was made of the involvement of charities, but while respected social enterprise the Wise Group was handed the West Scotland contract, no charities were listed as ‘prime’ contract holders and those such as Enable Scotland whose names featured prominently in announcements by employability minister Jamie Hepburn were still far from clear as to what their role was going to be.

In fact, Enable, which is involved in the contracts for three areas: Lanarkshire, West Scotland and Northeast, will work with just a few hundred people a year. This is in a context where only seven per cent of people with learning disabilities are in work and the Scottish Commission for Learning Disability says the number who want to work could be as many as 150,000 people.

Meanwhile the RNIB, another much-touted participant in Fair Start Scotland has pulled out, as it wrestles with a restructuring exercise that left it with losses on paper of £12 million last year. There is now no obvious provider involved in Fair Start Scotland with experience of working with those with sensory disabilities.

The Scottish Association for Mental Health, having looked at the figures has apparently decided they don’t add up and has pulled out of involvement in all but the Northeast contract area. The Wise Group has reportedly pulled out of its part in the Tayside contract.

So as Fair Start Scotland takes on its first clients this week, there will be close scrutiny of the way it operates and the extent to which it can deliver for the 38,000 Scots it aims to help back into work - or into work for the first time.

The remaining charities involved are concerned about the process of initial assessments for those in need of help finding work and in particular the use of a peculiarly subjective “segmentation tool” which will determine whether people are in the groups receiving the most or least intensive support.

As one of the first of the Scottish Government’s newly devolved powers to go ‘live’, ministers have a political need for it the Fair Start Scotland scheme to work. But after the UK Government’s failed programmes, unemployed Scots need it to work most of all.