Poverty and Inequality

06.04.17

DCLG to consult councils on spending model for Troubled Families scheme

The government will review the spending model of its current Troubled Families programme with local councils, the first annual report of the controversial scheme has revealed.

The programme was first introduced in 2012 and ran until 2015, costing an estimated £1bn to implement – including just under £500m from central government pots.

The current Troubled Families programme, which was rebooted in 2015, is now central to the government’s social reform programme and aims to work with the country’s most disadvantaged families to solve problems such as unemployment, debt and abuse, as well as mental and physical health problems.

In the report, which assesses the progress made by the programme since 2015, DCLG stated that it would be conducting a review of the programme’s payment by results model.

It also revealed that the government was aiming to work with up to 400,000 families by 2020, on top of the 185,000 who have reportedly seen positive benefits since 2015.

“Payment by results has provided a much-needed focus on real, tangible changes and outcomes being made in families rather than an offer of help and sympathy with little long lasting impact,” the report said.

“However, we need to be certain that it will provide the sharp focus we need on parental worklessness. We also need to be certain it will deliver long-term service reform after the programme ends in 2020.

“Over the coming months we will seek the views of local authorities delivering the Troubled Families Programme and the voluntary and community organisations whose role is also critical for future success.”

DCLG also explained that it would put an added focus on parental worklessness to tackle the adverse effects that growing up in a household with unemployed parents can have on a child’s future.

In his foreword to the report, communities secretary Sajid Javid argued that the current programme had learnt a lot from the 2012-15 scheme run by the previous government, but that it had made improvements to help a broader range of disadvantaged families.

“It is helping families with a much broader range of disadvantages and making sure that younger children are more likely to benefit from the whole family support on offer,” said Javid.

“This programme is also more transparent. Annual reports like this one will set out the programme’s progress and successes as well as where improvements might be needed.”

The first Troubled Families programme has since been heavily criticised by councils and central government after a review of its aims and eventual outcomes.

In its own review of the scheme, the government found that it had had no significant impact on reducing poverty and inequality overall in the UK.

The influential Public Accounts Committee also slammed the programme for misleading the public by claiming it had been successful, and also for prioritising ‘tick in a box’ results over delivering a meaningful impact for families.

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