It looks as if our streak of Sunny Monday mornings is well and truly over. In truth, it probably never existed anyway. But such observation is a harmless distraction in a land where a liquid climate reigns.
Less harmless though, is the way the government tends to use statistics. In our latest Question It series, we look at how the government quantifies and pin-points ‘Problem’ or ‘Troubled’ Families. Eric Pickles, in an exclusive interview with The Independent on Sunday said that the government was going to crack down on ‘Problem’ families by confronting them and employing the use of stigmas and blame to confront this issue; the only trouble is, the data being used, doesn’t really add up.
In a very thorough piece by Jonathan Portes, the Director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, he argues that statistics quantifying ‘Troubled Families’ are unavailable at worst and at best, very hard to gather. The result is that the data being used to label troubled families and quantify them, is actually data which is completely unrelated – data, which actually highlights and quantifies disadvantaged families, instead.
Portes goes on to observe:
“The Department for Communities and Local Government had, in fact, published an “explanatory note” to the figures. And, looking at footnote 2, we can finally establish what the definition of a “troubled family”, on which the Prime Minister’s numbers were based, actually is. It is a family which satisfies at least 5 of the following 7 criteria:
a) no parent in work
b) poor quality housing,
c) no parent with qualifications,
d) mother with mental health problems
e) one parent with longstanding disability/illness
f) family has low income,
g) Family cannot afford some food/clothing items