Ministers urged to publish Troubled Families report

9 Aug 16

The Early Intervention Foundation has called for a Whitehall evaluation of David Cameron’s flagship Troubled Families programme to be published in full after after reports claimed the review found the scheme had "no discernible" effect.

Carey Oppenheim, chief executive of the EIF, said it was vital a full evaluation of the programme was published in full as soon as it is completed and available.

Her call came after a report from BBC Newsnight revealed official analysis of data from 56 local authorities covering the first 18 months of the programme concluded there was "no discernible impact” on the proportion of people claiming out of work benefits as well as no improvement in the likelihood adults would find work. No discernible impact could be found on cutting adult offending rates in the 7 to 18 months after a family was enrolled in the programme.

The scheme, which was intended to provide intensive support to families with multiple needs, was launched by Cameron in December 2011, All 152 upper-tier councils in England were paid as much as £4,000 for each troubled family they worked with, with payments also made to councils based on the success of interventions.

Targets in the programme include getting children back to school, returning adults to work, and reducing instances of crime and antisocial behaviour by 2015, and ministers claimed that the lives of 116,654 of the most troubled families turned around. An extension to the programme to help a further 500,000 families was announced in 2014.

However, following the Newsnight report, the EIF, which acts as one of the What Works centres for policy evaluation, said that only full publication of all the facts would help individual local authorities and service providers learn lessons about what interventions had worked or what had failed.

"Concerns about the overall effectiveness of the Troubled Families scheme only highlight the importance of developing services that are based on evidence of impact,” Oppenheim said.

“Those concerns should not be allowed to obscure good results from individual programmes where they have occurred, or valuable lessons that could improve the outcomes from future investment in early intervention for families facing multiple disadvantage.”

She added that the EIF would continue to support the government’s aims of reducing the long-term costs – personal, social and economic – of entrenched, intergenerational disadvantage through generating and disseminating evidence of effective policy to support improved outcomes.

Responding to the Newsnight investigation, a Department for Communities & Local Government spokesman said: “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.”

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