Andrew Gwynne – 2016 Parliamentary Question to the Department for Communities and Local Government

The below Parliamentary question was asked by Andrew Gwynne on 2016-10-19.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, what assessment he has made of the implications for his Department’s policies of the recent National Evaluation of the Troubled Families Programme report.

Mr Marcus Jones

The National Institute of Economic and Social Research Impact Study was just one of 6 reports comprising the independent evaluation of the first Troubled Families Programme. The evaluation found that the programme had many positive achievements. These include:

  • Families feeling more confident and optimistic about being able to cope in the future
  • Joining up local services for families by encouraging a single keyworker approach to work with the whole family on all of its problems
  • Raising the quality and capacity of local data systems
  • Better joint working with partners such as Jobcentre Plus

The data shows that nearly 120,000 of the families on this programme saw their lives improve – more children attending school, youth crime and anti-social behaviour significantly cut and, in more than 18,000 families, an adult holding down a job. The evaluation does not dispute this fact.

Unsurprisingly, the ambitious and innovative impact study which used national administrative datasets to track changes in families circumstances over comparatively short time periods, was unable to specifically attribute positive outcomes achieved in employment, youth crime or school attendance to the Troubled Families Programme.

This was because at that time the level of change achieved was not significantly different from that seen in a group of families not on the programme with whom comparisons were made. This is not the same, however, as saying that the evaluation shows family outcomes did not improve, as some have wrongly inferred.

Of course, we will continue to review all evidence of how the programme is working, to learn from it and see if there’s more we can do to help families facing such multiple problems. In fact, we have already adapted the new programme in a number of ways, including extending the length of time over which family outcomes will be tracked – from 12 months to 5 years.