Troubled Families

The Government’s Troubled Families programme targeted support at 120,000 families identified by central government as being in need of ‘turning around’ due to experiencing multiple issues of deprivation such as high truancy rates, lack of employment, physical and mental health problems. DCLG estimated that these families cost society about £8 billion a year in terms of reactive costs such as costs of crime and child protection issues.

To ‘find’ these families nationally the government first got to the figure of 120,000 families by selecting respondents to the Family and Children survey 2005 who had at least five out of seven characteristics such as: ‘no parent in work’, ‘poor quality housing’, ‘no parent with qualifications’ and so on. Having determined the number of target families at a national level the DCLG apportioned them between local authorities based on the Index of Multiple Deprivation and the Child Well-Being Index.

Local authorities were then funded by central government on a payments by results basis to improve outcomes for the given number of families in their area. The Government spent £448 million over three years and in 2015 David Cameron announced that the programme had been a success, claiming a reduction in costs to taxpayers of £1.2 billion.

This is an interesting use of big data and funds at the central government level to target a relatively small amount of people in different local areas suffering issues of multiple deprivation.

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