'Getting with the (troubled families) programme': a review

Michael Lambert, Stephen Crossley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


The commitment of the appointed Director General of the Troubled Families Unit, Louise Casey, that the Troubled Families Programme (TFP) was ‘an opportunity not to repeat the failed attempts of the past’ masks several enduring continuities (Casey, 2012: 3). This review article argues that the TFP should be seen as part of a wider spectrum of policies which locates ‘troubles’ or ‘problems’ in the family itself and emphasises behaviour as the target of action without regard to wider social or economic considerations. This policy process must be understood within a wider context of not only historical efforts ‘to constrain the redistributive potential of state welfare’ (Macnicol, 1987: 316) but also of contemporary forms of neoliberal governance of ‘the family’ (Butler, 2014; Crossley, 2016a; Gillies, 2014). This article seeks to explore these interconnected movements, exemplified in the intentions and interventions of the TFP. First, we consider the longer history of the TFP as part of an ‘underclass’ discourse. Second, the more recent history of Family Intervention Projects (FIPs) in developing modes of family intervention is discussed. Third, we then discuss the implementation of policies in local authorities and the conflicting pressures workers and providers are subjected to. Fourth, the relationship of the TFP to wider coalition and Conservative government neoliberal policy measures and austerity priorities will be assessed. Finally, the TFP will be placed within an international context, pointing to larger developments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-97
JournalSocial Policy and Society
Issue number1
Early online date21 Sept 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2017


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