Troubled Families programme delivers substantial savings

Joe Lepper
Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Troubled Families programme has delivered savings of more than double the amount spent on turning around the lives of families with complex problems, government figures suggest.

Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) cost analysis of the controversial £448m initiative showed the average financial benefit per family to taxpayers is £11,200, more than double the £5,214 spent on interventions for each family that have gone through the programme.

In the year before entering the programme families involved cost taxpayers £26,000 on average, taking into account costs such as benefits, criminal justice and social care. For the most complex cases the average cost to the taxpayer was £44,000.

Among areas analysed, the evaluation found that the programme in Salford reduced the health spending for each family by £1,700 on average.

The figures were revealed as the DCLG revealed that the programme has turned around the lives of 105,000 families that have taken part in it.

The DCLG says nine out of 10 of the 120,000 families involved in the programme have now seen significant improvement in their lives, including finding work and reduction in incidents of antisocial behaviour and truancy.

But Barnardo's questioned the government’s spending on the initiative while pursuing austerity measures across family support services.
Barnardo’s chief executive Javed Khan says: “It is not 120,000 troubled families but the deep and widespread impact of austerity which is damaging the social fabric of the country.
“Over three million children have been plunged into poverty while local authority budget cuts for vulnerable families make it difficult for them to access lifeline local services. The government has invested £448m in troubled families at the same time as swingeing cuts in its Sure Start programme have led to the closure of hundreds of local children’s centres.

“For poor families who struggle daily with income cuts and soaring living costs, the ability to use a children’s centre or turn to the council is the safety net preventing them from falling into crisis.”

He urges the next government to shift the focus of spending towards early intervention rather than “picking up social problems later on”.
Last year, the programme was extended to cover an additional 400,000 troubled families by 2020.  

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