News story

Report shows savings from troubled families work

Report shows councils can save billions of pounds by intervening more effectively in problem households.

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

Woman looking concerned.

Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles has published new findings showing the huge savings that can be made for the taxpayer from turning around troubled families.

The Secretary of State for Communities said calculations by some leading local authorities show that councils can save billions of pounds by intervening more effectively in problem households. A Department for Communities and Local Government report, The cost of troubled families, published today (23 January 2013) shows:

  • Barnet Council spending almost £100,000 on average every year on responding to each of its troubled families, compared with costs that can be as little as £10,000 per family for a successful intervention
  • Solihull Council using 18% of its overall budget on just 3% of its families before it started working on the troubled families
  • Greater Manchester councils making an overall saving of £224 million from spending £138 million more effectively on their 8,000 troubled families
  • in West Cheshire, the council estimates that the average family costs around £7,795 to the local authority alone*, while the average troubled family costs an estimated £76,190

(* This is an initial indicative estimate based on the total revenue budget of the local authority divided by the number of one family or lone parent households (ie this excludes single-person households)).

It is estimated that nationally, the 120,000 troubled families cost the taxpayer £9 billion per year, £8 billion of which is spent purely reacting to their problems and the problems they cause, such as truancy, youth crime and anti-social behaviour.

The government has brought together £448 million from 6 government departments over 3 years to turn around these troubled families by 2015 and to help local authorities work with families in a better and more cost-effective way.

Local authorities will be paid up to £4,000 per family via a payment-by-results scheme if they can tackle these problems and bring down the cost to the public purse. Speaking at a Local Government Association conference on troubled families, Eric Pickles said:

“The prize here is potentially huge, both in terms of reducing the financial cost on the public purse and the human costs on families and communities. The savings we can make for the taxpayer would far outweigh the extra money we are putting in.

“Momentum is building behind this work and we will do much more in 2013. We will start showing the communities around these families that things are changing for the better, with kids back in school, crime coming down and parents sorting out their problems and getting back towards work. And we will do all this in bigger numbers than ever before.”

Leader of Solihull Council, Councillor Ken Meeson, said:

“I welcome this report and was delighted we were able to contribute to it. It is vitally important that councils get to grips with making an impact with troubled families in their area and tackle the drain they make on public services. It is only fair on other families and all Council Tax payers that we bring these costs down and free up vital resources for more effective spending. In Solihull we are doing exactly that.”

Further information

The Department for Communities and Local Government’s report on the cost of troubled families is available to download from this site.

All eligible local authorities are running troubled families programmes in their area and between them have committed to start work with 41,835 families across England by the end of this financial year, over a third of the 120,000 the Prime Minister wants to see turned around by the end of this Parliament.

This report follows 2 reports published last year on listening to and working with troubled families, focussing on the scale of the problem and the effectiveness of family intervention:

Full details of the government’s Troubled Families programme can be found on our policy page.

Published 23 January 2013