Troubled Families programme to get £165m funding boost

The government has announced £165m of new funding for its Troubled Families programme to tackle complex health and social issues experienced by vulnerable families.

The programme is designed to support vulnerable families. Picture: Adobe Stock
The programme is designed to support vulnerable families. Picture: Adobe Stock

The funding boost will be used to provide intensive support for families affected by unemployment, poor school attendance, mental health issues, antisocial behaviour and domestic abuse.

Announcing the extra investment, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said those families with deep-rooted problems would be specifically targeted through the programme’s whole-family approach.

Jenrick said the additional funding would build on the previous success of the programme over the coming year and deliver on the Conservatives' manifesto commitment to reach those who might benefit from early intervention.

“The Troubled Families programme will help more people in need get access to the early, practical and co-ordinated support to transform their lives for the better.

“This is the right thing to do for families and for society as a whole, and these reforms will reduce the demand and dependency on costly, reactive key public services,” he said.

The initiative, first launched in 2012 by then Prime Minister David Cameron, has since been expanded in 2015 with an aim to reach 400,000 families.

The extra funding will take the programme, originally set to run for five years until 2020, into another year.

However, it has faced criticism for its “accusatory tone” and for being ineffective with experts questioning government claims over numbers of families that have been “turned around” and the amount of public money saved since it was first introduced.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government today highlighted findings from its latest evaluation results for families that had been on the programme for between 19 and 24 months.

The department said the proportion of children on the Troubled Families programme being taken into care had reduced by a third.

Meanwhile, the proportion of adults on the programme going to prison had reduced by a quarter, with juvenile convictions falling by 15 per cent.

It also said more people on the programme were back in work with 10 per cent fewer participants claiming Jobseeker's Allowance.

Children’s commissioner for England Anne Longfield called the funding a “welcome investment” in support for vulnerable families on Twitter.

But she warned the funding boost needed to be “closely followed by long-term and extended funding commitments” in the forthcoming spending review which were linked to children’s centres and family hubs.

“Councils say extending this support will be vital to help children early,” she added.

Rachel Dickinson, president of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS), said: “In many places this funding underpins the local early help offer. While this funding is welcome the future of the programme, beyond 2020/21, remains unclear and some councils may still have to make tough decisions about these vital services in the long term. Moreover, without a sufficient, long-term financial strategy for our children’s services with prevention at its heart we continue to store up huge human and fiscal costs for the future.” 

The government this week also announced just over £20m in funding for breakfast clubs in disadvantaged areas as well as activities and free meals during the school summer holidays.

The Department for Education said £11.8m was being invested to set up breakfast clubs in up to 650 schools throughout 2020, building on the 1,800 clubs already created under the National School Breakfast Programme.

It said thousands of disadvantaged children would also be offered activities and free meals in the six-week summer holiday this year through an extra £9m of funding.

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