David Cameron's flagship scheme to help troubled families had 'no significant impact'

The scheme was still being lauded by ministers as a great success just days ago

Joe Watts
Political Editor
Tuesday 18 October 2016 07:22 BST
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Ex-Prime Minister David Cameron
Ex-Prime Minister David Cameron (AFP/Getty)

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Louise Thomas

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A scheme to help ‘troubled families’ championed by former Prime Minister David Cameron has had "no significant impact", according to a leading think-tank.

Mr Cameron had hailed the £448 million initiative to tackle addiction, absence from school and anti-social behaviour among families as a "real government success", but the research found no consistent evidence it improved lives.

It comes just 24 hours before the official who led the Troubled Families Team is expected to answer questions on the programme from MPs.

The research published by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research used data on a quarter of the families that took part in the first stage of the initiative and compared them to those that had not.

They calculated that there were "a very small number of positive or negative results", making the impact estimates "statistically insignificant".

They stated: "Across a wide range of outcomes, covering the key objectives of the Troubled Families Programme - employment, benefit receipt, school attendance, safeguarding and child welfare - we were unable to find consistent evidence that the programme had any significant or systematic impact. "

The programme, launched in the wake of riots in 2011, was designed to turn around the lives of 120,000 of the most troubled families in England by 2015.

It was then extended for a further five years starting in 2015/16 to help an additional 400,000 families with hundreds of millions of pounds earmarked for the task, bringing the total cost to more than £1 billion.

Just two days ago Communities Minister Lord Bourne praised the programme for "transforming the lives of thousands of families", before going on to claim that more than 116,000 who participated in the first phase of the programme have seen significant improvements in their lives.

He said: "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."

Dame Louise Casey, who led the scheme at the Department for Communities and Local Government, will take questions from a committee of MPs on Wednesday.

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