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'No evidence' Troubled Families programme has significant impact

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There is no consistent evidence that the Troubled Families programme has had “any significant or systematic impact” on outcomes for families subject to its intervention, an independent evaluation has concluded.

Published yesterday evening, the evaluation by Ecorys on behalf of the Department for Communities & Local Government said analysis of data on employment, benefits, school attendance and child welfare found outcomes under Troubled Families were “very similar” to outcomes for a comparison group.

It said: “We were unable to find consistent evidence that the Troubled Families programme had any significant or systematic impact… The vast majority of impact estimates were statistically insignificant, with a very small number of positive or negative results.”

A separate analysis based on a survey of individuals helped under the programme also found “no significant or systemic impact on outcomes related to employment, job seeking, school attendance, or anti-social behaviour”.

However, the evaluation did find the programme had some positive impacts, including a statistically significant impact on families’ “confidence, and optimism about being able to cope in the future, compared with a matched comparison group of families”.

The reports have been published ahead of their consideration by the Public Accounts Committee on Wednesday.

However, responding to the report, local government minister Lord Bourne inisted the programme had transformed services and peoples’ lives, although “there will always be lessons to learn”.

Lord Bourne, whose brief includes social inclusion and local government, said the government “never expected to get everything right” with the programme first time.

In a statement, he said: “As a pioneering programme, working with complex families in this way and on this scale for the first time, we never expected to get everything right and have never claimed to have done so.

”We believe this programme has transformed the lives of thousands of families. The councils and frontline staff who have put it into practice should be pleased with the work they have done.”

Lord Bourne said more than 116,000 families had seen “significant improvements in their lives” as a result of participating in the programme.

“We also know the programme transformed the way services responded to the most complex families,” he said. “Different agencies – the police, NHS, social services, employment advisers – worked together to help the family instead of pushing them from pillar to post.”

Lord Bourne said he was “confident” the programme would save money and added it had been “hugely popular” with councils, with 150 signing up to take part in the second phase.


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