Letters Troubled Families Programme

Evidence does exist for Family Intervention Projects

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e4485 (Published 03 July 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e4485
  1. Louise Casey, head of Troubled Families Programme1
  1. 1Department for Communities and Local Government, London SW1E 5DU, UK
  1. families.team{at}communities.gsi.gov.uk

The central premise of Fletcher and colleagues’ editorial—that government is “obliging families to accept a non-negotiable, non-evidence based intervention”—is based on a misunderstanding of our programme.1 This falls into two main categories: the prescription of Family Intervention Projects as part of the Troubled Families Programme and the lack of evidence for these projects.

The statement that under the new programme this government is scaling up “a non-negotiable version of the previous government’s Family Intervention Projects” is wrong. Firstly, local areas will decide the services and interventions they develop and deliver under the programme. We are not prescribing Family Intervention Projects or any other model, or ruling out multisystemic therapy. Secondly, local areas will also decide how and on what basis families are engaged with new support services. We have not heard of a single area that is developing compulsory interventions for families, although there are often strong incentives for families to accept help to avoid serious consequences that may already be in train, such as action to remove their children or eviction proceedings.

Although the editorial correctly points out the lack of a randomised comparison group in the Family Intervention Project evaluation, this weakness is common to many UK social policy evaluations. Evidence for the project is based on detailed monitoring data from most families that have received the service since 2006-7—a sizeable and robust sample. Because several studies have acknowledged the evidence of these projects’ efficacy, we felt there were good grounds for highlighting them as part of the programme.


Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e4485


  • Competing interests: None declared.


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