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Evaluation of Intensive Family Support Projects in Scotland



1. The Dundee, Aberdeen and Perth projects were run by Action for Children Scotland (formerly known as NCH) and the Falkirk project was run by the Aberlour Childcare Trust.

2. Two qualifications should be made here. Firstly, it is sometimes asserted by practitioners that landlords use court action for rent arrears in an effort to remove families considered responsible for ASB (because of the perception that it is more straightforward to gain possession on these (declared) grounds. Secondly, it is possible that some social sector tenants vacate their homes in the expectation of being evicted for ASB but before formal proceedings begin.

3. It should be acknowledged that this may not be the sum total of council tenants ejected from their homes on ASB grounds because it may not include all evictions in instances where tenancies have already been 'demoted' to insecure Short Scottish Secure Tenancy ( SSST) status. Although statistics on SSST terminations are not routinely collected on a national basis, one-off research found that in 2005/06 these totalled 16 across the whole of Scotland ( DTZ & Heriot-Watt University, 2007). However, anecdotal evidence suggests that at least some local authorities are recording the termination of demoted tenancies within their ' ASB evictions' figures as reported to the Scottish Government.

4. Expressed in relation to the scale of the council housing stock, the 2006/07 rate of ASB evictions in the four councils here was 0.07 per 1,000 properties. This compares with a Scotland-wide figure of 0.09 per 1,000 properties.

5. It should be noted, however, that the research found core block provision to be cost-effective and that the overall unit costs of projects incorporating core blocks were not higher than projects run on a purely non-residential basis - see Chapter 7.

6. An approach considered as already 'standard practice' by DFP

7. As acknowledged by one Project Manager, such pressure could lead to the referral of a particular family. However, a robust referral and assessment process - including evaluation of a family's engagement with relevant staff - would determine whether the family was in fact accepted for Project support.

8. It is acknowledged that this could reflect limited awareness of historical circumstances on the part of the caseworker.

9. That is, lost a home in which they were living at the time when they became known to the Council as ASB perpetrators. Having become administratively 'homeless' a family may have been temporarily accommodated by the council concerned.

10. A device developed by for the London Housing Foundation by Triangle Consulting.

11. In citing direct quotations from service user interviews we have anonymised these by changing family member names where mentioned and by omitting any attribution to particular Projects. Similarly, where these comments have referred to named Project staff, these identities have also been protected by the use of proxy names.

12. For this calculation it is assumed that projects start working with clients on the first day of a month and also that all cases are closed on the first day of a month. Therefore a referral received on 8 January resulting in case closure on 21 December is assumed to have lasted for 11 months (i.e. from 1 January to 1 December), as would a referral received on 21 January and closed on 8 December. These differences will tend to average out as the number of cases builds up over time.

13. In South Lanarkshire, the share is about 62% when the payments made to other bodies are excluded from their total annual expenditure.

14. It should be noted that DFP was able to work with an overall caseload fewer families than usual during the first three months of 2008/09 due to some staffing constraints, which resulted in an increased their average cost per family per month. Their normal caseload is about 20 families.

15. Projects should also be able to recover any rental costs they carry on core accommodation through rental income they receive from tenants.

16. South Lanarkshire's costs were higher for a number of reasons. The project started to recruit families later than the others, but had relatively high set-up costs initially. However, the Project was also funded at a higher level, where its staff would work particularly intensively with a relatively small caseload, at least initially. The annual budget also included about £75,000 for buying-in other relevant services for the families.

17. The costs of the IFSPs were generally slightly higher than those estimated for similar projects in England in the early/mid 2000s. This will partly be due to general cost increases in recent years, but may also be due to differences in the support and other needs (such as health-related needs) between the English and Scottish families concerned.

18. In addition, all of the Projects were working with several families who had been part of their caseload for at least a year, who would tend to increase the average duration of contact when their cases are closed. The implications of this for the average cost per closed case are explored in Table 7.7.

19. In reality, this family spent much longer with the Project, but the costs have only been analysed since 2005/06.

20. There are several dimensions to this aspect. Some families already had children in care when referred to the Projects, in which cases the Projects could work with the families to increase their access to the children, with the possibility of them returning to live in the family home. However, in some families, such as those with poorly managed addictions to drugs and/or alcohol, the extent of their problems and the risks these placed on their children only became apparent once the family had been referred to a Project, resulting in one or more children being accommodated elsewhere. For example, this sometimes occurred with families in the core/residential facilities, where the intensity of supervision and observation meant that such problems did not remain undetected.

21. In addition, Falkirk Council provided average local costs for a variety of services, especially those relating to looked after children, as shown in Table 7.9. However, such data are often not known by Councils.

22. These costs, and the ones in the row below, are taken Tables 6.6.3 and 6.6.4 in Unit Costs of Health and Social Care 2006, published by the Personal Social Services Research Unit. They are derived from a study of the costs of children in care, which showed that the costs associated with children with emotional or behavioural difficulties and offending behaviour can be very high, mainly due to the frequency of breakdown of the residential placements (which were usually out-of-area). Finding and managing placements for these 'difficult to place' children also required increasing amounts of social worker time.

23. Discounting is an adjustment made (by accountants and economists) to express the sum of a future stream of costs over several years as the present value of this sum. In this example, a sum of £84,000 would be needed now to deliver the £300,000 required over the person's lifetime, if invested with a return of 6% per annum. Thus £84,000 is the present value (or discounted cost) of the required income stream.

24. As in the citation of service user testimony in Chapter 5, note that in this Annex, to protect confidentiality, all names are aliases.

25. See, for example, Jefferson T et al. Elementary Economic Evaluation in Health Care, 2 nd edition, BMJ books, 2000 and Drummond MF et al. Methods for the Economic Evaluation of Health Care Programmes, 2 nd edition, Oxford Medical Publications, 1997.

26. Coast J. Is economic evaluation in touch with society's health values? British Medical Journal 2004; 329:1233-6

27. Assuming the average cost per contact month was £1,000 in both financial years.

28. For example, family composition, current and previous ASB; health-related problems; housing history; school attendance; locally available services.

29. Though it is important that projects' achievements are not exaggerated.

30. Formerly known as Capital City Partnership, Bishops Solicitors and Consulting.

31. This project was evaluated independently (Brodies LLP, 2007). The final evaluation quotes costs of about £99,000 for 2005/06 and about £245,000 in 2006/07, during which time there were 46 case families. It states that these figures "equate to a notional total spend of c. £7,472 on each of the 46 case families over the period", but points out that "the quoted cost figures for the Project exclude the opportunity cost of partner time on cases". However, it should be noted that this quoted value does not just relate to families whose cases have been closed.

32. There may also be some (relatively small) increases in costs for some services if family members are referred to them (e.g. for mental health or drug and alcohol problems). However, in many cases the project has only helped them to access services which their needs suggest they should already have been receiving.

33. The Fostering Network describes itself as the UK's leading charity for everyone with a personal or professional involvement in fostering.

34. The former value is derived from government data for 2003/04 and the latter is based on data from CIPFA (Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy).

35. A majority are boys, but girls typically account for more than a quarter, with most being placed for welfare reasons rather than because of offending. Approximately two-thirds of young people in secure accommodation are placed there on the authority of a children's hearing. The others are subject to a court order, either serving a sentence for a serious crime or on remand.

36. Subsequently the Department for Communities and Local Government ( DCLG)

37. It should be noted that a recent National institute for Health and Clinical Excellence ( NICE) appraisal on parent training programmes for conduct disorders highlighted the dearth of evidence on cost effectiveness ( NICE, 2006).

38. These classifications are similar to those used by Ward et al (2004) where 'Child A' could be seen as an example of a child with no or few problems, 'Child B' as a child with mild conduct problems, 'Child C' as a child with significant conduct problems or conduct disorder, and 'Child D' as a child with serious conduct disorder.

39. It should be noted that the costs incurred each year have been discounted to reflect their present value. The further into the future that a cost arises, the lower its present value. For example, a cost of £100 in a year's time at a 5% discount rate has a present value of £95.24. This falls to a present value of £61.39 if the £100 is incurred in ten years' time.

40. New Philanthropy Capital focuses on calculating the cost of a social problem and the returns to charitable interventions to address this problem (i.e. the social return on investment). The report also looks at the costs associated with the work undertaken by two charities to address the causes of behaviour that leads to exclusions and truanting to show the financial benefits associated with investing in these (and similar) programmes.

41. This is the undiscounted value, and equates to about £84,000 when discounted at 6%. This means that a sum of £84,000 would be needed now to deliver £300,000 over the person's lifetime, if invested with a return of 6% per annum. Thus £84,000 is the Present Value of this required income stream.

42. The KPMG foundation is a charitable trust that funds education and social projects for disadvantaged children and young people.

43. The study makes considerable use of the NCDS (National Child Development Study) and BCS70 (British Cohort Study) surveys, which focus on children born in a single week in 1958 and 1970. As data from these survey populations are only available up to the age of 37, this has been used as the cut-off point for the costings.

44. This figure is the Net Present Value of eight years' worth of total Exchequer savings from an incapacity benefits recipient, discounted at HM Treasury's recommended Social Time Preference Rate of 3.5%.

45. Gordon Waddell and A Kim Burton. Is Work Good for your Health and Well-being? A review for the Department for Work and Pensions, The Stationery Office, September 2006