Troubled families aid under fire

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Government programmes to help families with multiple challenges such as unemployment, antisocial behaviour and truancy have been criticised because of “poor co-ordination” between departments.

The National Audit Office (NAO) said elements of two schemes launched to turn around the lives of 120,000 families in England were underperforming.

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) launched its “troubled families” programme, with a budget of £448m, while the Department for Work and pensions (DWP) aimed to place 22 per cent of individuals attached to the programme into employment over three years to March 2015, with a budget of £200m.

The NAO said the DWP programme had achieved only 720 employment outcomes, just four per cent of its target, while none of the firms it was using to provide services had met the department’s target.

Local authorities in England have turned around 22,000 families, exceeding the target, but they have attached only 62,000 families to the programme, 13 per cent below an NAO estimate.

The Government has estimated the cost to the taxpayer of troubled families was around £9bn annually before the programme was introduced. Of that, it estimated that £1bn was spent tackling issues including mental health and drug and substance misuse.