Tuesday 26th March 2024

(3 weeks, 3 days ago)

Written Statements
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Felicity Buchan Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (Felicity Buchan)
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I am pleased to inform the House that the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has published the 2023-24 annual report of the Supporting Families programme, as required by the Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016, section 3(1). The report sets out how the programme is helping our most disadvantaged families who face multiple and complex problems. A copy of this report will be placed in the House of Commons Library.

Supporting Families—previously the Troubled Families programme—funds local authorities to join up local services to help families combat problems such as domestic abuse, unemployment, poor school attendance, and crime. Funding allocations are based on deprivation and population figures. It has been at the heart of the Government’s work to strengthen families and improve their futures for over 10 years. This phase of the programme has been expanded with an increase of £200 million additional investment. This is approximately a 40% real-terms uplift in funding by 2024-25, taking total planned investment over the spending review period to £695 million.

This is the Supporting Families programme’s final year under the remit of the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. The programme moves to the Department for Education on 1 April 2024, bringing together the spectrum of reforms to children’s services following the independent review of children’s social care. These reforms aim to deliver a co-ordinated system of support for children and families, as well as ensuring services are sustainable for local government.

Since 2012, the programme has directly helped vulnerable families across the country. Importantly, the programme has shown what is possible when we act early to help families and prevent problems from escalating. The programme’s evaluation showed that, of those on the programme, children going into care reduced by a third, the proportion of adults receiving custodial sentences decreased by a quarter, juveniles receiving custodial sentences decreased by almost 40%, and the proportion of adults claiming jobseeker’s allowance decreased by 11%. Not only has the programme delivered benefits for families, but it has provided a net benefit to the taxpayer. By reducing demand on high-cost acute services, every £1 spent on the programme delivers £2.28 of fiscal and economic benefits.

“Supporting Families—a foundation for family help: Annual report of the Supporting Families programme 2023-2024” is the eighth annual report of the Supporting Families programme. This document provides an update on the programme’s performance figures and policy developments for the programme.

Between April 2023 and January 2024, the programme has achieved positive outcomes with 77,203 families. The programme is progressing towards its aim of helping 300,000 families between 2022 and 2025. This year’s outcome takes the total number of families helped since 2015 to 612,164. The programme continues to join up with support for children and families across Government. This includes contributions to the “Working together to safeguard children” guidance and the Families First for Children pathfinder which is testing a new family help system.

As well as outlining our key national policy developments, the report sets out how the programme has continued to drive improvement of local services for families. For example, the programme produced a high-level “blueprint” for local authorities to rebalance their children’s social care system towards earlier, whole-family help and has begun implementation of its national good practice projects.

Alongside the annual report, I have also published the evaluation report for the data accelerator fund. The evaluation report looks at effective practice and service delivery. The report has found that the data accelerator fund has progressed the data maturity of participating local authorities and partners. A copy of this evaluation report will be also placed in the House of Commons Library.

I am immensely proud of the achievements made in the last 11 years, and I look forward to working alongside the Department for Education as we hand the programme to it for future delivery.

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