Delivery of the ‘troubled families’ programmes which are designed to turn around the lives of some of the most disadvantaged families is so far behind schedule that targets are unlikely to be met.
The DCLG programme to turn around the lives of 120,000 troubled families by March 2015 is 13% behind its own expectations of performance. By October 2013 it had achieved lasting improvements in the lives of 22,000 families, leaving a further 98,000 to be ‘turned around’ by May 2015.
The DWP’s programme seeks to move 22% of those referred to its employment programme into work by March 2015. It has achieved only 720 sustained employment outcomes by September 2013, just 4% of the programme’s expected performance.
The Public Accounts Committee is critical of the way the programmes ha e been handled. It has urged both departments to speed up the rate at which they are succeeding in their work.
Lower than expected performance has partly resulted from the Government’s baffling decision to implement two separate programmes for troubled families, which resulted in confusion and unnecessary duplication.
Another challenge has been the departments’ reliance on individual local authorities and private providers to deliver outcomes. There have been big variations in performance, which put achieving the programmes’ objectives at risk.
The Committee said that the departments must ensure that performance in each local authority, and by each contractor, is scrutinised to properly manage the contracts giving appropriate support where appropriate, but also imposing sanctions where necessary.
It called for clear improvements in performance against targets and real cash savings made from these programmes. The Government needs a clear plan for the delivery of the next phase of the Troubled Families programme, starting in 2015.