Tories caught lying over £1.3bn of squandered taxpayers’ money

An expensive Conservative flagship policy has been condemned as a gross waste of taxpayers’ money in an official report. Government sources have repeatedly claimed that the Troubled Families Programme has “turned around” the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. Yet such statements have been deemed false by a damning official evaluation.

Troubled families

The Troubled Families Programme was launched by David Cameron in the wake of widespread rioting in 2011. Cameron began the project by criticising ‘welfare culture’, saying it was:

essentially top-down and patronising – keeping people sealed in their circumstances with a weekly welfare cheque and rock-bottom expectations.

The new scheme would work alongside the Tories’ welfare cuts. The idea was that it would focus on families involved in crime or anti-social behaviour through targeted interventions and dedicated workers. In this way, Cameron felt able to say of his party’s approach:

we will be empowering… not making excuses for anyone, but supporting these families to take control of their own lives.

The results

Alongside Eric Pickles, who led the programme, Cameron later stated that the scheme had saved the country £1.2 bn, claiming in June 2015 that:

I can announce today that almost all of the 117,000 families which the programme started working with have now been turned around – in terms of either school attendance, getting a job or both…

Read on...

Yet a new official report by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) has negated all such claims. Despite being launched with an initial cost of £448m and then extended with a further £900m (making a total cost of more than £1.3bn), the NIESR states that there is:

no evidence the Troubled Families Programme had any significant impact on key objectives

The report goes on to state that the programme had:

no significant or systemic impact on outcomes related to employment, job seeking, school attendance, or anti-social behaviour

Deliberate misrepresentation

Not only is there cause for concern in such a complete waste of public money implemented during a period of grinding austerity, but there is also unease regarding government credibility. Why did the public statements of leading Tory politicians differ so vastly from the report’s findings?

One of the report’s authors, Jonathon Portes, wrote that the key issue is:

the government’s deliberate misrepresentation of the data and statistics … translated into a funding model that could have been designed to waste money.

He went on to describe David Cameron’s initial address to the Commons as:

a speech by the Prime Minister which misrepresented the facts

And he said Cameron’s claim that the lives of 105,000 families had been turned around was:

simply untrue

He concluded:

the blame rightly rests with ministers, including the former Prime Minister… and they should be held accountable… What on earth did the Treasury think it was doing allowing public money to be squandered like this?

A Conservative government lying, misleading the public and parliament — all while wasting public money? Whatever next?

Get Involved!

Support The Canary as we continue to bring you the news that matters.

Featured image via pixabay

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed