Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

‘Getting with the (troubled families) programme’: a review

  • Michael Lambert (a1) and Stephen Crossley (a2)

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).

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      ‘Getting with the (troubled families) programme’: a review
      Available formats
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      ‘Getting with the (troubled families) programme’: a review
      Available formats
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      ‘Getting with the (troubled families) programme’: a review
      Available formats
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

C. Beatty and S. Fothergill (2016) The Uneven Impact of Welfare Reform: The Financial Losses to Places and People, CRESR, Sheffield Hallam University.

I. Butler (2014) ‘New families, new governance and old habits’, Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law, 36, 4, 415–25.

J. Clarke and J. Newman (2012) ‘The alchemy of austerity’, Critical Social Policy, 32, 3, 299319.

S. Crossley (2016a) ‘“Realising the (troubled family)”, “crafting the neoliberal state”’, Families, Relationship and Societies, 5, 2, 263–79.

P. Garrett (2007) ‘“Sinbin” solutions: the “pioneer” projects for “problem families” and the forgetfulness of social policy research’, Critical Social Policy, 27, 2, 203–30.

V. Gillies (2014) ‘Troubling families: parenting and the politics of early intervention’, in S. Wagg and J. Pilcher (eds.), Thatcher's Grandchildren?, London: Palgrave Macmillan, 204–24.

C. Hayden and C. Jenkins (2014) ‘“Troubled Families” Programme in England: “Wicked problems” and policy-based evidence’, Policy Studies, 35, 6, 631–49.

C. Jones (2001) ‘Voices from the front line: state social workers and New Labour’, British Journal of Social Work, 31, 4, 547–62.

B. Labrum (2004) ‘Developing “the essentials of good citizenship and responsibilities” in Maori women: family life, social change and the state in New Zealand, 1944–70’, Journal of Family History, 29, 4, 446–65.

J. Macnicol (1987) ‘In pursuit of the underclass’, Journal of Social Policy, 16, 3, 293318.

J. Macnicol (1989) ‘Eugenics and the campaign for voluntary sterilization in Britain between the wars’, Social History of Medicine, 2, 2, 147–70.

K. Morris (2013) ‘Troubled families: vulnerable families’ experiences of multiple service use’, Child and Family Social Work, 18, 2, 198206.

M. Nasiali (2012) ‘Ordering the disorderly slum: “standardising” quality of life in Marseille tenements and bidonvilles, 1953–1962’, Journal of Urban History, 38, 6, 1021–35.

J. Nixon , H. Pawson and F. Sosenko (2010) ‘Rolling out anti-social behaviour families projects in England and Scotland: analysing the rhetoric and practice of policy transfer’, Social Policy and Administration, 44, 3, 305–23.

S. Parr (2009) ‘Family intervention projects: a site of social work practice’, British Journal of Social Work, 39, 7, 1256–73.

S. Parr (2011b) ‘Intensive family casework with “problem families”: past and present’, Family Science, 2, 4, 240–9.

J. Read (2015) ‘Transformation and regulation: a century of continuity in nursery school and welfare policy rhetoric’, Journal of Education Policy, 30, 1, 3961.

P. Starkey (2000a) Families and Social Workers: The Family Service Units, 1940–1985, Liverpool: Liverpool University Press.

P. Starkey (2000b) ‘The feckless mother: women, poverty and social workers in wartime and post-war England’, Women's History Review, 9, 3, 539–57.

B. Taylor and B. Rogaly (2007) ‘“Mrs Fairly is a dirty, lazy type”: unsatisfactory households and the problem of problem families in Norwich, 1942–1963’, Twentieth Century British History, 18, 4, 429–52.

J. Thoburn , N. Cooper , M. Brandon and S. Connolly (2013) ‘The place of “Think Family” approaches in child and family social work: messages from a process evaluation of an English pathfinder service’, Children and Youth Services Review, 35, 2, 228–36.

S. Todd (2014) ‘Family welfare and social work in post-war England, c. 1948–1970’, English Historical Review, 129, 537, 362–87.

L. Wacquant (2002) ‘Scrutinizing the street: poverty, morality, and the pitfalls of urban ethnography’, American Journal of Sociology, 107, 6, 1468–532.

J. Welshman (1999) ‘Evacuation, hygiene and social policy: the Our Towns report of 1943’, Historical Journal, 42, 3, 781807.

J. Welshman (2006) ‘The concept of the unemployable’, Economic History Review, 59, 3, 578606.

J. Welshman (2008) ‘Recuperation, rehabilitation and the residential option: the Brentwood Centre for mothers and children’, Twentieth Century British History, 19, 4, 502–29.

J. Welshman (2012) From Transmitted Deprivation to Social Exclusion: Policy, Poverty and Parenting, Bristol: Policy Press.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Social Policy and Society
  • ISSN: 1474-7464
  • EISSN: 1475-3073
  • URL: /core/journals/social-policy-and-society
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 87
Total number of PDF views: 366 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 1012 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 21st September 2016 - 20th August 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.