Policy

Helping troubled families turn their lives around

Issue

Troubled families are those that have problems and cause problems to the community around them, putting high costs on the public sector. The government is committed to working with local authorities and their partners to help 120,000 troubled families in England turn their lives around by 2015. We want to ensure the children in these families have the chance of a better life, and at the same time bring down the cost to the taxpayer.

Actions

As part of the Troubled Families programme, the government will work alongside local authorities to:

  • get children back into school
  • reduce youth crime and anti-social behaviour
  • put adults on a path back to work
  • reduce the high costs these families place on the public sector each year

We will encourage local authorities to work with families in ways the evidence shows is more effective, such as:

  • joining up local services
  • dealing with each family’s problems as a whole rather than responding to each problem, or person, separately
  • appointing a single key worker to get to grips with the family’s problems and work intensively with them to change their lives for the better for the long term
  • using a mix of methods that support families and challenge poor behaviour

The government is increasing local authority budgets by £448 million over 3 years on a payment-by-results basis.

Background

The Troubled Families programme was launched by the Prime Minister in 2011 and is led by Louise Casey CB.

A Troubled Families team, based in DCLG, has been established to join up efforts across the whole of government and to provide expert help to local authorities to drive forward the programme.

The team has been drawn from across government departments and includes a Director of Children’s Services with wide experience of family intervention on secondment from local government, as well as staff with a background in other areas of local government.

Government data collected in October and November 2011 estimated that £9 billion is spent annually on troubled families – an average of £75,000 per family each year. Of this, an estimated £8 billion is spent reacting to the problems these families have and cause with just £1 billion being spent on helping families to solve and prevent problems in the longer term.

On 18 July 2012 Louise Casey CB published a report highlighting the chaotic personal histories of the kinds of families who are eligible as part of the government’s commitment to turn around the lives of 120,000 troubled families by 2015.

An evaluation report by the National Centre for Social Research shows that intensive intervention to support and challenge troubled families is effective in turning round their lives – a family getting intensive support and challenge is twice as likely to stop anti-social behaviour as one not getting the intervention.

On 15 December 2012 the Troubled Families team published a report which looked at the academic evidence underpinning family intervention techniques and how effective they can be.

On 12 February 2013 DCLG published a report detailing government spending on troubled families.

Read more about family intervention work with troubled families.

There are compelling reasons for turning troubled families around.

Who we’ve consulted

Local authorities have been involved with the work of the Troubled Families team from the start – giving their views on the design of the programme, the payment-by-results financial framework and the ways of working with families which will bring about most success. The team has held workshops and meetings to enable all local authorities to have their say and work through ideas and queries. The team also consulted training organisations to make sure that local authorities get appropriate training materials.

Sixteen families were interviewed by Louise Casey in person for her report and were sourced by 6 local authorities and family intervention services across England.

The purpose of the interviews was to listen to families talk about their lives and the problems they have experienced (and caused) to begin to understand how best they can be helped.

Louise Casey has also consulted many local authority, charity and family workers.

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