In August 2011, the civil disturbances that erupted in London and other major cities propelled the issue of tackling Britain's social problems back to the top of the political agenda. The Prime Minister subsequently reiterated his ambition to turn around the lives of the 120,000 most ‘troubled families'. The Troubled Families Team was then established in the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG), with Eric Pickles MP given responsibility.
The Troubled Families Programme will enable councils and their local partners to build on the work already underway, such as community budgets. Helping ‘families with complex needs' was already the first area of work where a community budget approach was being applied, with 16 areas developing new ways for public services to work together across a local area, pooling resources. A number of case studies setting out their approach can be found here. Many others were also coordinating local services through family intervention projects.
Community budgets are an important tool, driving forward the agenda to find a more effective and financially sustainable way to support a greater number of these troubled families. Community budgets provide an opportunity to redefine the way services work together and help break down barriers at a local level by moving away from a system where funding is fragmented across separate agencies.
We all recognise that we need to 'do something differently' when working with our Troubled Families. The big questions are:
The first option of tweaking around the edges may have its attractions. But the second option of ‘whole systems change' has much more potential for genuinely improving things for our troubled families, whilst considerably widening the scope for making savings across the public sector.
Birmingham and Greater Manchester have been developing a framework – a toolkit that you can use ‘off the shelf' – to help your partnership through whole system change, including partnership investment agreements and partnership delivery agreements that are legally sound and enable the savings generated to feed back to investing partners.
The framework widens the question to make us think about:
By putting significant time into considering questions such as these, we have real potential to both improve
outcomes and drive savings out of the system in a number of ways:
The driver provided by the announcement of the Troubled Families Unit PbR provides a real impetus to have these conversations and make this whole systems change.
If you are interested in taking the framework approach developed by Birmingham and Greater Manchester, the information on the following website provides some suggestions for how you might do that.
If you are interested in being involved in the project, or testing any of the approaches suggested on the following pages, then please contact:
30 August 2012