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
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