Department outlines measures to assess outcomes while protecting privacy
The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) is planning to bring together data from government departments and local authorities in an effort to assess the progress of the Troubled Families programme.
It has asked the authorities to provide information on all the families supported by the programme across England. It wants to establish whether the support provided has helped with the aim of turning their lives around.
According to a DCLG privacy notice, the information from councils includes personal data such as names, dates of birth and postcodes. It will be passed to the Office of National Statistics (ONS), which has been commissioned by DCLG to carry out the work, then sent by secure methods relevant central government departments.
They will combine with information that they collect - such as school attendance and attainment, details of criminal offences and welfare benefits – remove the personal identifiers and pass it back to the ONS researchers.
DCLG says this will ensure that no individuals will be identifiable in any published information or anything shared with itself.
The process is aimed at providing a reliable perspective on the outcomes from the programme while preserving the privacy of the relevant families.
Troubled Families was launched in 2011 and is focused on breaking patterns of abuse, violence, drug use, anti-social behaviour and poor parenting. In June Prime Minister David Cameron claimed that it had been a success for almost all of the 117,000 families contacted and had saved the taxpayer as much as £1.2 billion.
But the website Full Fact has claimed that the savings figure does not count the costs of interventions, and that the £1.2 billion is not a credible estimate.
The DCLG programme could provide a more accurate picture.