Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Troubled Families Project Taken to Task by Inquiry

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Troubled Families Project Taken to Task by Inquiry

Article excerpt

Byline: Jonathan Walker Political Editor

MPS are demanding answers about PS448m taxpayer-funded project to help "troubled families" which has been branded a failure.

Bridget Phillipson, MP for Houghton and Sunderland South, is helping lead an inquiry into the Troubled Families Programme, which was piloted in the North East.

It was supposed to get people into work, help cut the benefits bill, ensure children went to school and protect children whose parents couldn't cope.

But despite being one of former Prime Minister David Cameron's flagship projects, an independent assessment has found it had "no significant impact".

Ms Phillipson said she was concerned huge sums had been spent on the scheme - at the same time as North East councils face massive funding cuts. She's part of the Commons Public Accounts Committee, which is holding an inquiry into what went wrong.

The MP said: "In stark contrast to claims by government ministers that the Troubled Families Programme has transformed the lives of 99% of the 120,000 troubled families it targeted, and saved the taxpayer an estimated PS1.2bn, an independent evaluation of the programme published on Monday found that the first phase had no significant impact on the key outcomes it was supposed to improve."

She added: "When I asked the civil servants responsible for the programme to reconcile the independent report's damning findings with their own positive assessments, they had no answers. In fact, there was an attempt to criticise the independent report to deflect attention from its key findings. I was particularly worried about their inability to justify the huge levels of public expenditure on the Troubled Families Programme during a time of swingeing cuts to public services and council funding in regions such as the North East, and by the unanswered questions regarding the flaws in the payment by results model that the programme adopted. …

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