Something that should trouble all of us

blue lightThe news that the Government has suppressed a report that shows one of their flagship schemes has been ineffective is not a shock. Sadly that sort of things happens all too often and Governments appear to believe that they are only accountable to us when it suits Ministers. Reports into policies should be commissioned by a Parliament that is fully independent of the Government that sets the policy. That should ensure honest timely publication, irrespective of outcomes and who will be embarrassed by the data. In this case the report assessed what is called the Troubled Families Programme and it appears to show no discernible impact on the families concerned. Sadly, in my opinion, this is because the wrong objectives were set, even though the initial diagnosis was spot on. The ‘problem’ is not within families, who are struggling to cope with complex challenges, but due to the way that the various statutory agencies interact with one another in such cases. Many of their core priorities are set nationally from Whitehall and they are often expected to achieve far more than their resources will allow. The diagnosis in this case was that the families are being visited by various public sector bodies with conflicting priorities and purposes leading to duplication and missed opportunities. The solution that was suggested was to incentivise these agencies to pool their knowledge and understanding and reduce the number of duplicate visits, trying to offer an improved quality of approach to each family so they gained more from each visit, and their needs were addressed more consistently. However despite the programme, there was no fundamental shift within the agencies, they were all being asked to modify their approach for a small part of their workload. Instead of questioning the value of the programme, apart from its name, we should be calling for this approach to change the way all public services are delivered. What is needed is a change to the extent to which public bodies cooperate. It is no good suggesting that this sort of change is needed with a small group of families, all of us need to see a culture change. The public sector must stop acting as various local expressions of a different Whitehall department, each of which is fighting for resources. Rather the various agencies in Whitehall must remove their departmental fire walls. We need to know that the Home Office policies are harmonised with the policies from the Department for Education, and the Department for Communities and Local Government. This will then give local agencies a fighting chance to work together more effectively, not just for families under the greatest pressure, but for all of us.


About ianchisnall

I have a passion to see public policy made accessible everyone who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as in policies on health services and strategic planning.
This entry was posted in Charities, Community Safety, Housing, Justice Issues, Parliament and Democracy, Policing, Welfare Reform, Youth Issues and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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