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Brokenshire: Evidence proves value of Troubled Families

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Housing and communities secretary James Brokenshire will back the continuation of the Troubled Families programme after the latest evaluation found it has reduced the levels of children going into care, unemployment and criminal convictions.

In a speech at the Centre for Social Justice this afternoon, Mr Brokenshire will say the programme is proving its value in tackling social challenges such as youth violence and unemployment by supporting struggling families with a series of complex problems, such as domestic violence and mental health issues.

In 2015 the programme was allocated £920m for its second phase to help 400,000 families, having been launched in 2012. However, the government is yet to confirm whether funding will continue after 2020.

The fourth national evaluation of the programme is due to be published today and is reported to have found targeted interventions have reduced the proportion of children on the programme going into care by a third, compared to a ‘control group’ of families in similar circumstances.

The evaluation also found the programme reduced the proportion of adults going to prison by a quarter and child convictions by 15%.

Support through the programme has led to 10% fewer people claiming jobseekers allowance, the evaluation found.

Mr Brokenshire will say: “Fresh thinking is needed now more than ever to meet the challenges we face – like knife crime and gang culture. This programme is proving it has a valuable role to play as we look forwards to the upcoming spending review.

“It’s inspiring to see agencies working better together to help people succeed but the real story is the thousands of people who’ve taken control of their own lives. People are being helped to help themselves.”

Mr Brokenshire is also considering whether the programme’s name should be changed “to better reflect its positive and supportive ethos and to deepen the engagement for the work”.

The architect of the programme Dame Louise Casey said the latest evaluation justifies the level of investment in the programme.

She said: “Since 2012, the first and current Troubled Families programmes have – very deliberately - shaken up the way families with complex problems are supported, ensuring they are identified earlier to get the help they need, which is completely focused on helping families live better lives.

“Helping families to help themselves so their kids are not taken into care or family members ending up in prison and getting more people from the programme into work is testament to what frontline staff can do with the right resources and backing.”

Concerns were previously raised about the effectiveness of the programme after the first phase of the evaluation published in 2016 concluded there was no consistent evidence that the programme has had “any significant or systematic impact” on outcomes for families subject to its intervention. 

The Public Accounts Committee criticised the design of the evaluation after noting that it was unable to attribute a significant impact on a range of measures, despite receiving evidence of good practice. The government subsequently made a series of changes to the evaluation process including a wider range of indicators, tracking outcomes over a longer period and ensuring all councils were committed to providing good quality data.

Earlier this month local government minister Rishi Sunak gave his full backing for the continuation of work under the Troubled Families programme beyond 2020.

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