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Responding to 'Listening to troubled families'

Responding to Louise Casey’s report ‘Listening to troubled families’ and the government’s scheme to ‘turn round the lives of 120,000 of Britain’s troubled families’, Clare McNeil, Senior Research Fellow, IPPR, said:  

‘The intentions behind this scheme are the right ones. It is only through highly personal and sustained efforts from dedicated workers that the lives of troubled families can be turned around.

‘But the details of government’s scheme raise some worrying issues.

'First, the scheme is not clear about whether it is about disadvantage or dysfunction. The 120,000 families figure refers to disadvantaged families, experiencing multiple deprivation, who are not involved in law breaking. But it is families where there is a high level of youth crime and anti-social behaviour, among other factors, that are referred to the scheme. The government scheme also focuses only on families, excluding individuals who may need help.

'Secondly, the evidence shows that successful interventions cost around £20,000 per family, when only £4,000 is available under this scheme. This means the scheme could struggle to 'turn around' the target number of families and could result in caseworkers being seriously overloaded.

'Thirdly, the scheme involves payment-by-results, and a problem with this is that it removes power and control for the family to improve their lives, replacing it with a set of outcomes they have no influence over. There is a danger of hitting the target but missing the point, which is to achieve lasting change.'

Notes to editors

  • DCLG press release and report 'Listening to troubled families: A report by Louise Casey CB' at
  • IPPR will be publishing research this summer which examines the past 15 years of policymaking relating to multiple disadvantage, drawing lessons from the past and setting out the principles for a new policy agenda in this area.


Tim Finch, 0207 470 6110,

Mavis McKenzie Cecil, 07929 132 716,

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