News story

Report highlights chaos of troubled families' lives

Louise Casey CB has published a report highlighting the chaotic personal histories of the kinds of families who will be targeted as part of …

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Louise Casey CB has published a report highlighting the chaotic personal histories of the kinds of families who will be targeted as part of the Government’s commitment to turn around the lives of 120,000 troubled families by 2015.

The report details stark real-life accounts from families, with experiences often passed from generation to generation, such as domestic and sexual abuse, teenage pregnancies, poor parenting, social care interventions, police call outs and educational failure. It also contains Louise Casey’s early conclusions that a whole-family approach is often best for dealing with multiple and inter-linked problems; rather than approaches that deal with single problems or single individuals within a household.

Key recurring themes highlighted in the report include:

  • Dysfunctional and unstable family structures;
  • History repeating itself within families and between generations;
  • Extended family and antisocial networks within communities which reinforce destructive behaviour; and
  • The need for one assertive family worker who offers practical help and support but also sanction in dealing with families.

Head of Troubled Families Policy Louise Casey said:

I am not making excuses for any family failing to send their kids to school or causing trouble in their community. However unless we really understand what it is about these families that means they behave in this way, we can’t start to turn their lives around.

Conducting these interviews has been an eye-opening experience - to hear first hand about the lives these families lead and the legacy of trouble that’s often been passed down to them. It’s clearer than ever to me now that we cannot go on allowing families to fail their children; none of the parents I spoke to wanted their children to repeat a life of chaos and trouble, but often they couldn’t see how to put things right by themselves - they needed practical and persistent help to do so.

Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles said:

I welcome this report as it provides a real insight into these families’ dysfunctional lives and highlights the urgent need to turn them around. The Troubled Families team in my department are not just sitting in an office in Whitehall telling local authorities what to do but seeking to gain a true understanding of the challenges they face.

Under the Troubled Families programme the Department for Communities and Local Government will pay upper-tier local authorities up to £4,000 per eligible family on a payment-by-results basis if they reduce truancy, youth crime and anti-social behaviour or put parents back into work.

The Government’s £448m three-year budget is drawn from across seven departments in a bid to join up local services dealing with these families on the frontline. All 152 upper-tier authorities in England have committed to engaging in the programme.

Notes to editors

  1. This News Release covers England.

  2. Listening to Troubled Families: A report by Louise Casey CB can be found at:

  3. Reporting to Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles, Louise Casey was tasked by the Prime Minister in November 2011 with leading local authorities to turn around the lives of 120,000 troubled families by 2015.

  4. Troubled Families are eligible for this programme if they have children regularly absent or excluded from school; cause high levels of youth crime and/or anti-social behaviour; claim out-of-work benefits; and/or incur high costs for local public services.

  5. Turning a family around is defined as: Achieving more than 85 per cent attendance and fewer than three exclusions from school for children; A 60 per cent reduction in anti-social behaviour across the whole family and a 33 per cent reduction in youth offending; and progress towards work for adults such as enrolment in the Work Programme or the European Social Fund provision for troubled families; or one adult in the family moving off benefits and into work.

  6. Families were interviewed in person by Louise Casey and were sourced by six Local Authorities and family intervention services across England.

Updates to this page

Published 18 July 2012