House of Commons Library

The Troubled Families programme (England)

Published Wednesday, July 18, 2018

This House of Commons Library briefing looks at the design, policy debate, outcomes and results of the Troubled Families programme in England, a targeted family intervention programme run by local authorities.

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Troubled Families is a programme of targeted intervention for families with multiple problems, including crime, anti-social behaviour, truancy, unemployment, mental health problems and domestic abuse.

Local authorities identify ‘troubled families’ in their area and usually assign a key worker to act as a single point of contact. Central Government pays local authorities by results for each family that meet set criteria or move into continuous employment.

£448 million was allocated to the first phase of the programme, which ran from 2012 to 2015. Local authorities worked with around 120,000 families, and ‘turned around’ 99%. However the independent evaluation of the programme found no evidence that the programme had made any significant impact across its key objectives.

The second phase of the Troubled Families programme was launched in 2015, with £920 million allocated to help an additional 400,000 families. The second phase will run until 2020, with annual progress reporting until 2022.

The programme was championed in part as a way to reduce public spending on families who require support from multiple parts of the state. No formal analysis has yet been published on the extent of any savings from the programme as a whole.

The Troubled Families programme is administered by the Department for Communities and Local Government, and covers England only.

An independent evaluation of phase one was carried out by Ecorys and published in 2016. It found no strong evidence that positive outcomes or cost-savings could be attributed solely to the TF programme. Following this analysis, and criticism by the Public Accounts Committee, the Government has committed to a more rigorous longitudinal study for phase two. This paper summarises some of the evaluation that has been undertaken so far.

Commons Briefing papers CBP-7585

Authors: Alex Bate; Alexander Bellis

Topics: Anti-social behaviour, Children's social services, Employment schemes, Local authorities: education, Unemployment

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