The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the Committee of Public Accounts, today said:
"The two ‘troubled families’ programmes are designed to turn around the lives of some of the most disadvantaged families in our society, at the same time as delivering savings for the taxpayer.
We welcome the commitment shown by both departments involved in delivering the programmes.
However, we are concerned that the Government is on course to miss its targets of ‘turning around’ the lives of 120,000 troubled families and moving 22% of those referred to its employment programme into work by March 2015.
At the time of our hearing, DCLG’s success rate was 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.
More worryingly, DWP’s programme had achieved only 720 sustained employment outcomes by September 2013, just 4% of the programme’s expected performance.
Both departments have got 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 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.
We now need to see clear improvements in performance against targets and real cash savings made from these programmes. And the Government needs a clear plan for the delivery of the next phase of the Troubled Families programme, starting in 2015.
These actions are essential not only to turn around the lives of the troubled families involved, but also to deliver savings and demonstrate value for money."
Margaret Hodge was speaking as the Committee published its 51st Report of this Session which, on the basis of evidence from DCLG, DWP, Leeds City Council, Liverpool City Council and Family Action, examined DCLG and DWP’s programmes to help families facing multiple challenges.