Skip to main content

Troubled families: progress review

Thirty-third Report of Session 2016–17

In August 2011, following riots in some parts of England, the then Prime Minister announced a commitment to turn around the lives of the 120,000 most troubled families in England by 2015. The Government estimated that the annual cost of these families to the public sector was £9 billion, £8 billion of which was spent reacting to their problems instead of solving them. To meet the Prime Minister’s commitment, the first phase of the Troubled Families programme was launched in April 2012. Initial central government funding of the programme was £448 million between 2012 and 2015. The Department funded local authorities for achieving outcomes with troubled families through a payment by results framework. While it did not prescribe how local authorities should work with troubled families, many adopted the perceived good practices of earlier family intervention projects, such as using key workers to join up public services. In June 2013, the Department committed a further £920 million to extend the programme to 2020.

The Department had commissioned a consortium to evaluate phase one of the programme. The evaluation aimed to assess the impact of the programme, its cost-effectiveness and how it was implemented. In August 2016, the BBC’s Newsnight programme reported that the Department had ‘suppressed’ this evaluation, and that part of it had found that the programme had had ‘no discernible impact’. The evaluation was published on 17 October 2016, two days before the Committee’s evidence session.