Departments must improve contract management to tackle 'troubled families'

Gurjit Degun
3 April 2014

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4 April 2014 | Gurjit Degun

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) are being urged to manage contracts with local authorities better if they are to meet their targets.

The recommendation comes in today’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report on the the two departments' programmes on ‘troubled families’. The initiatives are designed to improve the lives of disadvantaged families and deliver savings for taxpayers.

The PAC said the departments are “reliant on individual local authority and private providers delivering the necessary outcomes” to meet their targets. But the PAC’s investigation found “considerable variations” in performance between councils and between suppliers to the programme.

The report said: “The departments must ensure that performance in each local authority, and by each contractor, is scrutinised to properly manage the contracts giving appropriate support where appropriate, but also imposing sanctions where necessary.”

PAC chairman and Labour MP Margaret Hodge said: “We welcome the commitment shown by both departments involved in delivering the programmes.

“However, we are concerned that the Government is on course to miss its targets of ‘turning around’ the lives of 120,000 troubled families and moving 22 per cent of those referred to its employment programme into work by March 2015.

“Both departments have got to speed up the rate at which they are succeeding in their work.”

The DCLG, which is leading on the project, said it welcomed the committee's recommendations and would respond to the report in full "in due course".

In December last year, the National Audit Office accused the two departments of not understanding the risks of payment-by-results.


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