Essay: Social policy in the UK based on the Troubled Families Agenda 2012

This essay aims to discuss social policy in the UK based on the Troubled Families Agenda 2012, Firstly; Social policy will be illustrated throughout whilst looking into the characteristics of political parties. Social policy was developed by individuals as a complement to social work studies; it enables professionals to be involved in the administration of welfare. Through the use of social policies the government use welfare and social protection to develop the welfare society. This looks at the individual and social well-being, there are needs which are what people must have to survive, wants which are things that people choose to have and finally interests which are things that are good for people to have (Spicker, 2015). Society today is divided by class due to the membership of social groups that have different needs and life experiences; Alcock (2014) believes Social policy attempts to reduce the inequalities that have become distinct between the classes and conflict is likely due to the different needs of society. The current government of David Cameron (2010-present) discussed a reduction in terms of welfare spending and formed a programme of austerity; this was introduced by the Coalition government, Conservative and Liberal Democrat. According to Alcock (2012) Social policy can be traced back over 100 years where the Fabian society of 1884 campaigned for social protection through the state, policies are now developed by the government but has local and supranational dimensions.
The Troubled Families Agenda (2012) came about in response to Social need as it is a central concern of the welfare system, introduced by the coalition government. There are various types of need; Baldock (2012) introduced four types of need, these being Felt, Normative, Expressed and Comparative. Firstly, Baldock defined felt needs as what an individual believes they ‘need’ this can often be unrealistic and subjective to what the individual may want instead of need. Secondly normative, this is how an expert or professional identifies a need compared to a set of standards. Moving on to Expressed need, Baldock believed that this was where a felt need became a demand, it does not necessarily imply that people need it but are becoming demanding. Finally, Comparative needs compare resources; this is mostly used when debating the issue of poverty. Manning (in Alcock, 2012) believed something important and basic is a social need, such as somewhere to leave, food and hygiene, there are various social arrangements that exist to meet the needs of individuals. Manning went on to discuss that it is difficult to distinguished between ‘wants’ which are more inclusive and ‘preferences’ which are difficult to measure.
David Cameron (2011) stated that society has got to take action to turn troubled families around; the government pledged ??448 million to help them however, that amount would only cover 40% of the costs that would be necessary. Roberts (2012) believed there were 120,000 troubled families that have problems and also cause problems; however, this then stereotypes those that have problems believing that they also cause the problems that they face, this not only adds stigma to the family but does not solve their problem. Adding to this the coalition government attempt to work alongside troubled families to get children back to school, reduce youth crime, get adults back into work and reduce the high costs that these families cause to the welfare system. Furthermore, they are also responsible for a large amount of social problems; these are not only towards themselves but also for the community. Roberts also discussed previous initiatives which have also focussed on families, the Family Intervention Project (FIP) was introduced to aid families toward a better living and supports them, this was an initiative that was also introduced to target families in need. Previous initiatives such as Sure Start Centres are also under cuts due to the high costs the families cause to them, therefore The Troubled Families Agenda has been put into place as an early intervention. The Troubled Families policy also encourages families to engage in activities within the local community, families are often appointed a key worker that use multi agency working to offer support. Multi agency working provides various benefits for children, young people and families, there is easier and quicker access to services, better support, reduced need for long term services and early identification of issues and intervention. Through multi agency there has become an improved achievement in education and better engagement in education (Safe Network, 2011).
In context to the Marxist theory socialism often refers to the mode of reproduction, this is often a complex system between social and economic institutions which include the ways that individuals think (Schmitt et al, 2012). Marxism was a dominant form of socialism within the early 20th century, whereby hierarchy was significant within society. Marxist sociologists believe the modern family that has been created by the bourgeois is a failure due to capitalism and wealth, adding that children are now disengaged from the family and they are often alienated from their parents sue to a socialist society. Adding to this Marxists believe that due to the current society al anxiety about actions have consequences has been removed (All About, 2015).
According to Neo-Liberalism (The New Right) there is a contradiction between the operation of markets and the intervention of the state, for a free market growth there would be a dependency culture. Neo Liberals believe in the free market and little barriers that may affect the flow of services and capital highlighting how economic growth is of great significance whereby free trade benefits all classes, not only those of higher classes. Neo-Liberalism is pro-market and collectivist, they were not just opposing the rise of socialism in national economies, but were also established at the growth of the post war welfare state, it is more about market than the state (Hayek in Turner, 2007). In addition to this the Neo-liberal ideology is solely focussed on the distribution of welfare and individuals responsibility to replace the concept of community and those markets should be free from government interference (World Health Organisation, 2015).
Harold Macmillan was the conservative prime minister in 1938 and distances a political divide between the Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Labour governments, referring more to a reluctant collectivism, and is rationalistic. Economic growth is necessary in order to ensure that social needs are able to be met, The Middle way are supporters of the welfare state and capitalism which has made them significantly different from the Neo-Liberals as they thrive from the government policies and agree that social policy is beneficial to each individual. The Middle way is in agreement with how the welfare state is controlled by the government and the policies that are put in place for individuals within society believing (Alcock, 2008). The Middle Way is the mainstream of the Conservative party, based upon the Fabian tradition whereby it looked at three different approaches to the development of policies linking to the support of social justice and economic growth (Alcock, 2012).
The post modernists reject the idea of universalism, the idea that there are no universal morals and truth, they also oppose the idea that values and judgements apply worldwide. They also agree that families can be reconstituted and involve all sorts of individuals and that biology and legal ties such as marriage are not the only basis (Alcock, 2008). The Functionalists assume there should be a traditional nuclear family but the post modernists recognise that this is not true anymore, families are diverse and relationships are constantly changing. The post modernists recognise the outcomes of an individual’s experience as fallible and relative, rather than it being universal. According to Giddens (1994) who adopted the post modernist ideology believed it is not possible to make general statements about the family and families now become varied over generations. Adding to this the traditional nuclear family was no longer relevant like the Marxists, Functionalists and Feminists assumed still occurred (Alcock, 2008).
Adding to this it is important to illustrate the Feminist ideology whereby men’s power within the family is significant as this allows for dominance not only at work but also at home, according to Pascall (1997) the state supports the dominance that men have and the state is also supported by men’s dominance also referring to the ‘gendered nature of the welfare state’ (p.30). However, Barrett and McIntosh (1982) disagreed with the ideology of the traditional family values and relationships, they believed that the concept of family no longer exists as mothers no longer want to be at home whilst there husband goes to work and push away from the idea of a hegemonic family. Furthermore Barrett and McIntosh discuss the family is no longer oppressed by society and how families should be traditional but instead celebrate being diverse, women was more social responsibility rather that just at home. The Troubled Families agenda focuses on all types of families and does not focus on hegemony but discusses the need to support all individuals.
The Troubled families are identified through a criteria, either being involved in crime, have children not in school, an adult out of work and cause high costs to the government. It is unlikely however that this policy will reach all families and the majority will have been through many different services already. It is stated that any family that reaches the first three criteria outlined should automatically become part of the programme for troubled families (The Troubled Families Programme, 2012).
Walker (2008) highlighted the significance of multi agency working, through various professionals within the education sector, health sector and children’s social services. Through the Troubled Families Agenda the police, housing and youth offending teams will all communicate between services to discuss families, Walker discussed that multi agency working was important to help families with their problems and aid them toward a better living. The Home Office (2013) states that each local area will have different multi agency approaches and safeguarding threats, but should still work towards delivering effective multi agency approaches to provides services that are required by families.
The figures from The Troubled Families Agenda (2012) illustrate the progress that has been made, around 105,671 families have been ‘turned around’ according to government figures published March 2015, through this it is clear to see the Troubled Families Agenda has been of benefit to various families across the country and the coalition government has succeeded with the policy (Department for Communities and Local Government, 2015). From these statistics, the policy with support from multi agency working has been successful within society and the government has focussed on the social need of not only the families but the welfare state.
From personal experience I have found through researching the policy the significant number of families with problems that need addressing, it has become evident that a stigma can often become attached to such families if known that they are under The Troubled Families Agenda. Furthermore I wish to add that social policy is necessary for society to function however, as discussed by Sergeant (2013) families will often fall back into their past habits when key workers are no longer present and the problems they have overcome may again be attempted due to the key worker no longer supporting the family. Adding to this the policy can also make individuals more vulnerable to society, through slipping back into anti social behaviour, being unemployed and relying on state welfare.
To conclude, there is sufficient need for social policy, Manning (2012) believed the social welfare called for various social arrangements that need to correspond with the individuals requirements within society, addressing the issue that there is a difference between needs and wants and that institutions of social welfare evolve over time. Social policy is part of the process within a political society and depending on society the needs of individuals can change. Social policy discusses social relations for individuals within the community, promoting the well being for all and various aspects that can affect life when individuals do not have basic needs to function. Social policies also lead to social justice which aid economic growth and welfare within society.

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