Monthly Archives: May 2012

The numbers don’t belong here!

Important updates at the foot of this article.

Last week the PM declared there were “120,000 troubled families” who were responsible for all manner of woes. He said “we know who these families are” and calculated that these people were costing the country £70,000 each per year.

The trouble is, no one (except the BBC’s More or Less programme) looked at the figures to see how they were achieved. It turns out they come from a study of a subset of people, and those 120,000 is a rounding up of a 117,000 figure that the study came up with, saying that families had 5 or more of particular ‘disadvantagments’, making them ‘multiply disadvantaged’.

The government then, as their statement said, used this figure because it was the closest to what they wanted to measure. There was a slipage from ‘troubled’ to ‘trouble makers’, however there is no evidence that ‘troubled families’ are trouble making families. But it makes a grreat headline for the paper of the ‘people’ to follow.

It is the first item at the beginning of Radio 4s More or Less on Friday 18th May 2012, download link here.

More or Less Podcasts: 

UPDATE: Troubled Families Research Discredited. (5/11/2012)

The study that is referred to in this post has since been completely discredited. It turns out that the 117,000 figure was itself an extrapolation. We now know that Casey interviewed just 16 families. The New Statesman carries this story.

FURTHER UPDATE: Author admits number simply made up. (8/04/2013)

I have been following the saga of the “120,000 troubled families” since it was first mentioned in speech by PM David Cameron last May. I first reported here in some detail that  this number and the rational behind it was at best dubious. And finally after some pressure form others in the field,  Louise Casey, the author of the original report in to this, finally admitted that the “120,000 troubled families” number was simply made up.

Is WorkFare making unemployment worse?

I said the work programme aka WorkFare wasn’t working, yesterday we had proof. 

Yesterday’s report by the Welfare to Work industry [the actual people running these programmes] reveals that only 22% of long term unemployed people put onto the Work Programme have got jobs. Of those many will be in temporary work.

Chris Grayling claimed that 36% of people on the Work Programme would gain sustainable long term employment. However the Telegraph today revealed officials would have expected 28% of long term unemployed people to have found work anyway without any help at all.

This means that the Government’s flagship Work Programme is not just under-performing, it appears to be making the problem of long term unemployment worse! The government are spending multiple-billions of pounds on a scheme carried out by experts in the Welfare to Work field like A4e, with less success than if you just left people to their own devices!!!

It just beggars belief that they can waste so much money on private companies providing such awful service. The Sun said £5bn could pay for a lot of things, like nurses and teachers, shame they were targeting the legitimate benefit and muddying the waters with talk of fraud. However, I digress.

They consider £13,000 just about enough incentive for a company to help “find” someone a job (yes, they get that per person they find work for). Yet at the other end of the scale, a cut to the just over £60 a week Job Seekers Benefit is considered the acceptable incentive to get people to follow these ridiculous schemes.

They take £12m away from Legal Aid for benefit appeals, but pay billions to a profit making sector without even requiring how it is spend or what quality of service they expect. Yet qualified and experienced teachers and dictated to constantly about how they should teaching adding and multiplication!

If I knew the answer I’d offer one, but what ever the answer is, the government are still asking the wrong questions.