Policy paper

2010 to 2015 government policy: support for families

Updated 8 May 2015

This is a copy of a document that stated a policy of the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government. The previous URL of this page was https://www.gov.uk/government/policies/helping-troubled-families-turn-their-lives-around. Current policies can be found at the GOV.UK policies list.


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.


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.


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.

In 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.

In 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.

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

The Department for Communities and Local Government, Department of Health, NHS England and Public Health England have worked together to develop a national ‘health offer’ to support the expanded Troubled Families programme.

This is an initiative to improve the lives of up to 400,000 families with multiple problems, including families with mental and physical health problems, affected by domestic violence and with vulnerable children.

The national ‘health offer’, published in November 2014, includes guidance for health professionals and their partners.

By March 2015, over 105,000 troubled families’ lives had been turned round - read the latest figures on the progress being made across the country.

See case studies describing the intervention work being undertaken with troubled families.

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.

Appendix 1: training the troubled families workforce

This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.

The government is working with 152 local authorities and their partners to help turn around the lives of 120,000 troubled families in England by 2015.

This is a significant programme of work and if local authorities are to meet this challenging deadline, and receive the funding available to them under the payment by results model, they need to make sure they intervene with families in ways that are proven to work.

The Working with troubled families report looked at the academic evidence on family intervention techniques and the life-changing results that such techniques can have for even the most challening families. The report highlighted ‘5 key features of effective family intervention’ - particular skills and behaviours that workers need to bring about this change. Many areas are currently developing plans to train their troubled families workforce and the emphasis we are placing on these 5 features of effective practice is likely to influence the type of training required.

On 29 January 2013 the Troubled Families team held a half-day event for training providers on the features of effective intervention we are promoting centrally. Information we’ve gathered about the family intervention workforce’s training needs was shared so training providers can develop and make available relevant training products for local authorities who wish to use them.

Appendix 2: how the troubled families programme will work

This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.

Local authorities have agreed the share of the 120,000 families they will work with by 2015 and the proportion they will work with in the first year of the programme.

These families:

  • are involved in youth crime or anti-social behaviour
  • have children who are regularly truanting
  • have an adult on out-of-work benefits
  • cost the public sector large sums in responding to their problems

A network of local authority troubled family co-ordinators has been appointed to operate at a senior level in local authorities to oversee the work on this programme in their area.

The Troubled families programme: financial framework for the payment-by-results scheme for local authorities provides more details about what the co-ordinators will do.

The government has made available £448 million over 3 years, 2012 to 2015, drawn from the budgets of 6 government departments. This represents 40% of the average cost of turning 120,000 families around using proven intervention techniques, with the remaining 60% coming from local budgets. Local authorities may wish to reprioritise money currently spent by local services on reacting to troubled families’ problems to solving and preventing them instead.

The government will contribute up to £4,000 per family towards the cost of successfully intervening with eligible families across England on a payment-by-results basis.

The troubled families programme: financial framework for the payment-by-results scheme for local authorities describes in more detail how the scheme will work and how results will be measured.