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Lack of evidence that Troubled Families programme has impacted on families

Public Accounts Committee examines impact of programme

On 19 October the Public Accounts Committee examined the Troubled Families programme which recently published research has suggested has not had the expected, intended impact. The session can be viewed here.

The first Troubled Families Programme 2012 to 2015 sought to produce real change in outcomes for families with multiple problems and to change the services that worked with them. Analysis published by the Department for Communities and Local Government concluded that 'the key issue to emerge from the phase one programme evaluation … is the lack of evidence that it has had an impact on the outcomes that it seeks to affect for families.'

As part of their analysis, the valuation team measured the impact of the programme on child welfare using the proportion of children classified as in need (CIN) or looked after 12 months after the family started on the programme, as recorded in the National Pupil Database. In terms of the programme's aim to reduce costs, a reduction in the proportion of children classified as in need or who are looked after would be viewed as a positive impact. The report notes, however, that, in terms of child welfare, there may be greater ambiguity over whether reducing the likelihood of a child going into care or being classified as in need was incontrovertibly beneficial for the child.

The programme appeared to significantly increase the percentage of children with CIN status and significantly reduce the proportion in care. Twelve months after starting the programme, 40 per cent of children in the Troubled Families group were classified as in need compared to 37 per cent of children in the comparison group. Three per cent of children in the Troubled Families group were in care 12 months after the family started on the programme, compared to five per cent of children in the comparison group.

For an overview of the programme, click here For the full evaluation of the programme, click here For local authority data on the cost and potential fiscal benefits of the programme, click here For a ministerial comment on the programme, click here

On 19 October the National Audit Office published a factual update to support the Committee's evidence session. It is based primarily on published sources, information supplied by the Department for Communities and Local Government and previous reports published by the National Audit Office. For that update, click here.

For a House of Commons Library research briefing, published on 20th October 2016, click here.

20/10/16