We proudly present the latest instalment in The Professor’s peerless analysis of the Troubled Families Programme (TFP).
As he has so eloquently explained previously this is a pet project of Birkenhead MP Frank Field – and therefore , of course Wirral Council !
Once again we are particularly interested in the manipulation of figures and the ‘alternative facts’ that The Professor exposes. As ever , Wirral Council ‘was one of the more inept and careless in its manipulations.’ . However, as we know, Wirral Council have never been reluctant to spend public money on personal agendas. What we’re concerned about, especially in the context of blaming central government for their current financial woes is that the minimum cost to Wirral council tax payers for a failed programme is £6 million up to 2020.
This leads us to conclude that whilst miracles may appear in ‘The Bible’ they’re highly unlikely to appear in Godforsaken Birkenhead.
Wirral was an enthusiastic player in the 2012 – 2015, £448 million national Troubled Families Programme (TFP) to ‘turn around’ dysfunctional families accused of crime, antisocial behaviour, drug addiction, alcohol abuse, poor parenting, laziness and high welfare costs. In fact nationally 90% were not involved in crime; 97% were not having drug treatment; 88% were not alcohol dependent. The families were not criminal or lazy but ill : 75% of families had one or more members with a limiting, long standing illness or disability; 52% had one or more children with a ‘special educational needs’ statement or other special needs; 57% could not work because of a disability.
Nationally 120,000 families, who supposedly cost the state £9 billion per annum, were reprocessed in the TFP. That is a cost of £75,000 per family. On Wirral 910 families were processed in their local IFIP and 98.9% were successfully ‘turned around’. The Wirral performance was miraculous in several respects. Consider the public claims on crime, etc.
‘74% of families with a history of crime / ASB had stopped offending.’
‘95% of ASB had stopped across all families engaged…’
But on Wirral 93.5% of adults had no ASB reports at project entry.
Also we are told
‘82% of minors met the reduced offending target.’
But 84% of minors at project entry had not offended. Truly these results are miraculous are they not? Employment results were less impressive. ~75% of families were unemployed at entry. During the IFIP period only 7.1% got a job and this could not be attributed to the IFIP.
But fear not because by mid 2015 Wirral Council was claiming that the IFIP had ‘saved’ us all £76,100 per family. Since the original government total cost estimate was £75,000 per family Wirral has eliminated all family costs ! No other council in England achieved this miracle ! The savings figure was based on a sample of 180 out of 910 families. Of course this needed to be a representative, random sample of the total project families. Was it? Well 179 of the families had met the crime reduction targets and had substantial crime costs removed. That is 99.4% of the sample. But as we saw very few families were involved in crime, around 5 to 10%. The sample used to calculate cost savings and claim bounty money from the government was clearly badly biased and wildly unrepresentative of the real families and savings.
It is also a statistical miracle that the 180 family biased sample led to a savings claim within 2% of the 2012 government total cost estimate of £75,000 per family. This could not happen by chance.
But there is an even bigger miracle. The government carried out a number of local authority sampling and savings exercises from 2013 to 2015. By early 2015 the net savings reported in a 67 LA sample was a mere £3,700 per family, just 5% of the original £75,000 total cost per family. Yet somehow Wirral was still claiming, in official documents,a saving of £76,100 per family ! Wirral is unique in the country in saving 20X more than the average council ! It amounts to £68 million per year locally…if it was real. But we are not finished fellow tax payers.
In October 2016 the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee finally got to see the TFP National Evaluation (NE) reports which had been suppressed for over a year. The NE showed clearly that the local TFPs,like Wirral’s IFIP, had NO impact on crime, education, health, wellbeing, employment and benefit claiming across the country.
This result was based on direct comparison of family outcomes with matched control groups in two independent studies by a respected academic consortium commissioned by the government itself. The differences between the troubled families and the controls were tiny
and not statistically significant. The claimed 99% family ‘turn around’ was based on manipulating success criteria and local data with the encouragement of the Department for Communities and Local Government. There was no miracle. The claimed family improvements were fantasy. The claimed cost savings were also fantasy. We can be proud that our council was one of the more inept and careless in its manipulations. Tax payers should also bear in mind that our council is taking part in the useless, discredited TFP phase 2, at a minimum cost to us of £6 million to 2020.