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National evaluation of the Troubled Families Programme 2015 - 2020: family outcomes - family survey: part 1

A newly released report contains findings from the baseline survey of families (main carers and young people aged 11-21) in receipt of help from the Troubled Families Programme, conducted by Ipsos MORI on behalf of the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG).

The national evaluation of the current Troubled Families Programme aims to explore the level of service transformation driven by the programme as well as establishing the impact of the family intervention approach on families themselves.

Key strands of the evaluation include:

  • The Family Survey - a quantitative longitudinal survey of families in receipt of help from the programme in nineteen local authorities
  • The National Impact Study, where individuals in families being worked with by all local authorities are matched to data held by other government departments and outcomes tracked throughout the programme
  • Annual staff surveys, online quantitative surveys of delivery staff (Troubled Family Co-ordinators, keyworkers/local practitioners and Troubled Family Employment Advisors (TFEAs))
  • Qualitative research involving in-depth interviews with staff delivering the programme and families receiving services

See the full report here.

This summary presents the key findings for families who are currently in receipt of troubled families support across the 19 local authorities participating in the Family Survey.


Households tend to be larger than average (four compared with 2.5 nationally) and young (61% of family members are aged 18 or under).

A high proportion are also lone parents compared with families in the country as a whole (56% compared with 11%).

Most families (82%) rent their home, with the majority renting from a local authority (43% of all renters), and have experienced some housing mobility with many making multiple moves; for example, families who moved in the last three years have lived in an average of 2.2 different homes.


The unemployment rate is significantly higher than across the UK (29% compared with five per cent).

More households do not have any workers than nationally (57% compared with 16%).

These employment patterns appear to be persistent, with many main carers having been out of work for most of their time since leaving education (29%) or never having had a job (10%). 82% have not taken any active steps in the last four weeks, and 62% have not engaged in activities to improve their work readiness (training, qualifications etc.) in the last year.

Notably, however, young people aged 15 or over are positive about their future with just two per cent expecting that they will not be in education, employment or training in the next year.

Receipt of benefits and tax credits is both high and higher than nationally,

There is high receipt of Child Tax Credit (78% compared with 10% nationally), income support (31% versus three per cent), a range of disability related allowances, and Carer’s Allowance (23% versus one per cent).

Health and Wellbeing

Families on the programme face a wide range of health-related problems, including higher prevalences of a long- standing physical or mental impairment, illness or disability and poor mental health and wellbeing than nationally.

They are also more likely to exhibit a series of risky health behaviours, related to smoking, drinking and drugs than the population as a whole. Among young people aged 11-21 years, risky health behaviours are also more common than nationally (though these comparisons are for 10-15 year olds only); more have drunk alcohol, smoke and have tried cannabis than nationally.


Qualification levels are low, with a quarter (25%) of main carers and one in five (20%) young people who have left school with no formal qualifications compared with eight per cent nationally.

The majority of young people interviewed are still at school, and 40% of main carers say that concerns have been raised about the attendance of their child. However, most of these young people are positive about their future, saying they expect to still be at school or college or working in five years’ time. Fewer than 0.5% say they will be unemployed in five years’ time.

Children in need

There is evidence that children living in families on the programme are vulnerable; with one in five (17%) involved with social services. Nationally 4.4% are either a child in need, on a child protection plan or being looked after by the local authority. In addition, almost half (46%) of households have at least one child with a special educational or other special need, and more than half of these households (56%) would like more advice and support.

Domestic violence/abuse

Families on the programme have experienced significant issues in terms of family relationships and domestic abuse, both when growing up and as an adult. (20%) experienced domestic abuse or violence in their home as a child, increasing to 33% who have experienced this as an adult. In addition, experience of non-sexual abuse by a partner or ex-partner both since turning 16 and in the last six months is higher than nationally.

Crime and anti-social behaviour

31% of young people have had contact with the police (not as a victim) in the six months prior to interview, higher than the level of contact reported by main carers for the household as a whole (22%). Most commonly this  involves being reprimanded or asked to move on or having the police called to their home. Young people are less likely to report contact as a victim (five per cent compared with 15% of households).

One in ten (nine per cent) main carers report action being taken by the police against a household member in the last six months because they were accused of committing a crime. A similar proportion (11%) of young people have also had action taken against them, including seven per cent who were cautioned. However, fewer (five per cent of main carers) say that action has been taken against someone in their household as a result of anti-social behaviour in the last six months.

Young people tend to report higher levels of involvement in crime and anti-social behaviour than their carers, including at least a third (35%) who report fighting/physical violence in the last month, a quarter (24%) admit to vandalism and one in ten (11%) to stealing.