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The Future of Troubled Families Briefing

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On 28th February 2017, Portal Analytics attended the much anticipated Westminster Briefing event, titled ‘The Future of Troubled Families’. It was great to see a mixed audience of Local Authority decision makers, Analysts, Practitioners, Charities and Police forces in one room. Our main objective was to collectively understand what we have learnt from the previous phases of the Troubled Families programme, and anticipate what are the upcoming challenges and concerns with moving forwards.

An article published in the Times on 17th February 2017 revealed how Theresa May does not plan to remove the Troubled Families programme as previously feared, despite the fact the team responsible for looking after Troubled Families has been dissolved. In fact, the government has announced that the programme will continue and become part of Theresa May's Social Justice Strategy.

This news may be comforting for some and unsettling for others. In the eyes of Local Authorities, Practitioners, Charities and Police forces - plans to extend will likely be welcomed. A lot of good honest work over the years has taken place to help families get back on track and many children’s lives have been positively changed possibly forever. Is success measured by how much money the government has saved or by the amount of life’s it has positively improved? 

The issue with positive improvement is that it is often hard to quantify, and when something is hard to quantify it’s hard to justify why it should be continued. Portal are pleased with this announcement because we work with Local Authorities day in day out, and see the amount of care, time, dedication and passion that comes from each and every member of the Adult and Children Services team. There is real commitment to help and improve families in the community.

The Troubled Families programme has laid down an infrastructure, a framework, a way of working which has revolutionised social services. It has reintroduced social collaboration and the need for a joined-up approach. It has taught us so much about the power of data and the need to understand it. It has built bridges with external agencies and services and fused a working group under a common goal. In today’s society we need models like these because social issues are not simple problems and in today’s day and age, information about us does not sit on one computer in one database. It is everywhere! We need the widest net to capture the right information about us and the Troubled Families programme is that net we need.

The event demonstrated one thing more than anything else - we need a clear direction, strategy and additional resources to tackle the growing complexity of a degrading society. Some of these issues may not be addressed immediately and will require huge investments by the Government, however, one thing is clear, without information and intelligence we only have a partial view of what's really happening. The primary strategy for the Government should be to increase data standards and help Local Authorities better manage data. Once we have a clear view of our citizens we can truly plan how to be effective and efficient.

In taking the first step, Portal Analytics is hosting an event on 28th March in IBM's South Bank headquarters; we will be discussing more of the above and asking The Royal Borough of Greenwich and Manchester City Council to share their experiences and strategy towards data in the infinitely expanding information age.

If you're keen to attend simply register your interest below.