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Programmes to help families facing multiple challenges

1 In 2006, the government estimated that there were 120,000 families in England facing multiple challenges such as unemployment and poor housing. In 2011, it revised its definition to include other challenges such as crime and antisocial behaviour. It estimated that that the cost to the taxpayer of providing services to support these families was approximately £9 billion a year, of which £8 billion was spent reacting to issues and £1 billion trying to tackle them.

2 In 2012, the Departments for Communities and Local Government and Work & Pensions both introduced programmes to help these families.

The Department for Communities and Local Government’s Troubled Families programme aims, with other initiatives, to ‘turn around’ 120,000 families facing multiple problems over three years from April 2012 to May 2015. The Department also wants to encourage a more joined-up approach by all the public agencies that interact with the families. It has a budget from central government of £448 million, with an expectation that local authorities and their partners will contribute an additional £600 million of resources over the same period, including resources ‘in kind’. The Department is responsible for implementing an extension to the programme beyond March 2015.

The Department for Work & Pensions’ Families with Multiple Problems programme seeks to move 22 per cent of individuals attached to its programme into employment and to move others nearer to employability. It has a budget of £200 million for December 2011 to March 2015.
3 Both programmes look to support families rather than individuals and address multiple challenges by joining up the activities of local service providers. Both programmes have elements of payment by results. The Department for Communities and Local Government pays local authorities for attaching families to its programme, with a further payment made for achieving agreed outcomes. The Department for Work & Pensions’ programme pays contractors for activities that are designed to address a range of barriers to employment to help clients become more job ready. It makes an outcome payment if a client achieves a progress measure or is placed in sustained employment.

4 It is too early to assess the final value for money of the programmes but our report examines the rationale for and introduction of the programmes, their design, and early performance. We set out our audit approach in Appendix One and our evidence base in Appendix Two.