Of COURSE the ‘troubled families programme’ helped nobody – except certain local councils

The initiative was supposed to turn around the lives of 120,000 of the most ‘troubled’ families in England [Image: Alamy].

The initiative was supposed to turn around the lives of 120,000 of the most ‘troubled’ families in England [Image: Alamy].

It helps if you understand that the ‘troubled families programme’ was about councils getting cash from the government, rather than helping anyone.

It was based on a false premise and was never about improving anybody’s life chances.

The scheme followed the riots in London and across the UK in the summer of 2011. Looking for a scapegoat, David Cameron identified poor and disadvantaged families – and told us they were antisocial; a menace to society.

His solution: a ‘payment-by-results’ scheme that relied on local councils to ‘help’ a target number of ‘troubled families’ in order to release central government funding.

So they all filed claims saying they helped exactly the right number of people to release the funds. Did they actually help anyone?

Well, what do you think?

Of course, the targets had no basis in reality, so what did anybody expect?

So these ‘troubled families’ are just as troubled as before. The government is £450 million worse-off – will it require councils to pay back the money? – and of course the risk of further riots like those in 2011 is exactly the same as it always was: Negligible.

How stupid. Why do people bother voting Conservative at all?

You don’t help dysfunctional families by telling somebody you’ll give them a big whack of money if they hit an arbitrary target for fixing them.

You help these people by giving them opportunities and encouragement, by offering something better than they have at the moment.

This is where Tories always go wrong, because they don’t want anybody else to have any opportunities at all – other than the opportunity to make cash for Tories.

The government’s flagship social policy, announced after the 2011 riots and intended to correct the anti-social behaviour of “troubled families”, has failed to achieve any significant impact, an official evaluation has found.

The troubled families programme, a scheme estimated to cost more than £1bn including £450m from central government, was launched by the former prime minister David Cameron with the aim of tackling “a culture of disruption and irresponsibility” by targeting households with high levels of crime, unemployment, pupil truancy and use of child welfare services.

However, a devastating study concludes that after four years there was no clear evidence that the programme had any serious effect, despite persistent claims by politicians that it had “turned around” the lives of tens of thousands of families and saved over a billion pounds.

The study concludes: “The key finding from the impact evaluation using administrative data was that across a wide range of outcomes, covering the key objectives of the programme – employment, benefit receipt, school attendance, safeguarding and child welfare – we were unable to find consistent evidence that the troubled families programme had any significant or systematic impact.”

Last year the government massively expanded the programme to 400,000 families by 2020 claiming its “payment by results” approach – in which councils were paid only if they could show they had successfully intervened with families – was a success.

However the decision to expand the scheme – which was widely criticised at the time as being unsupported by evidence – was taken before the formal evaluation was complete.

Ministers had seized on data that appeared to show that almost all of the 120,000 families covered by the programme had undergone positive, life-changing experiences as a result of intervention by professionals but the study says that there was no evidence that the changes were attributable to the programme itself.

Source: More than £1bn for troubled families ‘has had little impact’ | Society | The Guardian
Join the Vox Political Facebook page.

If you have appreciated this article, don’t forget to share it using the buttons at the bottom of this page. Politics is about everybody – so let’s try to get everybody involved!

Vox Political needs your help!
If you want to support this site
but don’t want to give your money to advertisers)
you can make a one-off donation here:

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Buy Vox Political books so we can continue
fighting for the facts.

The Livingstone Presumption is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:


5 thoughts on “Of COURSE the ‘troubled families programme’ helped nobody – except certain local councils

  1. Zippi

    “a culture of disruption and irresponsibility” Changing that it not going to happen overnight and requires a national change in attitude. We live in an age in which responsibility is an alien concept. You lead by example and our government’s example is not one that I believe that anyone should follow.
    “Why do people bother voting Conservative at all?” Because £abour showed itself to be incompetent to the extent of telling the electorate that it was responsible for the global financial crisis, in order to convince said electorate that it could be trusted with the nation’s economy. Did those £abour M.P.s not see how ridiculous that was? Until that rhetoric is countered, not withstanding the nonsense of the last year, the Tories may continue their slash and burn tactics, unfettered. Furthermore, Call-Me-Dave needs to be exposed and brought before Parliament to answer for his actions.

  2. Roy Beiley

    From experience at working for a local authority who were in receipt neighbourhood renewal funding between 2003 to 2007, there was always a failure to understand the difference between OUTPUTS & OUTCOMES.
    For example, the use of this money to, say, a group of 50 people to improve their literacy skills by arranging a programme of special classes was shown to have an Output of 50. To measure the Outcome from this “investment” ( ie how many of the 50 had IMPROVED their literacy skills at the end of the programme) would have needed a monitoring/testing process to run alongside the literacy skills classes. This was seldom done. So, if 5 people did not complete the programme then it was ‘assumed’ that the programme had a 90% success rate and this was the quoted OUTCOME.
    Also, Special funding of this type is regarded by many local authorities as “funny money”, ie not part of their annual budgets, and getting it all spent in the timeframe is the main driver rather than it having achieved any significant improvements.

  3. Michael Broadhurst

    like all Camerons policies,all waffle no substance,just like the man himself really !!

Comments are closed.