The Troubled Families funding programme had no real effect, a government report has concluded.
Launched in 2012 after the inner city riots the previous year, the £1.3 billon programme was designed to tackle social problems widespread in more deprived areas of the country, such as poor parenting, unemployment, crime, truancy and antisocial behaviour, all via frontline intervention. The £400 million first wave was aimed at 120,000 of “the most troubled households in the country”. This was followed by a broader second phase which aimed to help a further 400,000 families with £900 million of additional funding.
But as the programme winds down, an independent assessment has concluded that, despite a claimed success rate of 98 per cent, in reality the funding had little effect on the lives of the troubled families targeted.
Following an assessment of 56 local authorities, consultancy Ecorys reported that the programme had had “no discernible impact” on either unemployment or adult offending rates.
“Whilst it was more difficult to match the treatment and comparison groups when looking at child outcomes, the findings suggested that the programme also had no detectable impact on child offending.”
Limited sample sizes in the assessment data had placed a lot of focus on “impacts that were relatively small in magnitude” and the criteria used to assess a successful intervention had been too generous, the consultancy claimed. A small drop in a family’s involvement in crime meant they were assessed as having been “turned around”, for example.
The ”embarrassing” report remains unpublished, The Guardian claims. But a spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government denied this, insisting that the report had yet to be finalised.
“It is wrong to say that any report on Troubled Families has been suppressed. There were several strands to the evaluation work commissioned by the last government and there is not yet a final report.”