Claims that a scheme to help troubled families in Hartlepool has had ‘zero impact’

Hartlepool Civic Centre.

Hartlepool Civic Centre.

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A multi-million pound scheme to help troubled families, including those in Hartlepool, is having ‘no significant impact’ a report has claimed.

The town was one area chosen to be part of the £448million government initiative, The Troubled Families Programme, aimed at fixing problem neighbours.

We were unable to find consistent evidence

Jonathan Portes

Launched in the wake of riots in 2011, it was designed to turn around the lives of 120,000 of the most “troubled” families in England by 2015 and was then extended for five years bringing the total cost to more than £1billion.

Hartlepool was identified as having 290 troubled families, with 242 eligible for help under the scheme, giving them action plans, a case worker and more targeted partnership work across agencies.

The aim of the national scheme was to transform lives and reduce the long-term financial burden on services.

But, new research by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) found no consistent evidence that the scheme - which sought to tackle often interlinked problems such as addiction, absence from school and anti-social behaviour - had improved the lives of those it aimed to help.

Using data from a quarter of the families, the report said: “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 findings come just two days after Communities Minister, Lord Bourne, praised the programme for “transforming the lives of thousands of families”.

However, one author of the NIESR report, Jonathan Portes, said: “The Troubled Families Programme has had no significant impact on any of the key outcomes it was designed to change.

“As far as we can tell, there’s no evidence at all to suggest the programme had more than zero impact.”

A spokesman for Hartlepool Borough Council said: “The Troubled Families Programme forms just one element of our ongoing commitment to support children and families in Hartlepool.

“We’ve been involved with this national programme since its launch and this reflects our determination to improve the life chances of those most in need.”

Troubled families are households involved in crime and anti-social behaviour, have children not in school and cause high costs to the public purse.