St Helens Council

St Helens Council is the local authority of the Metropolitan Borough of St Helens in Merseyside, Liverpool. It is 1 of 5 metropolitan district councils in Merseyside, and 1 of 36 in England. It is a constituent council of Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and provides most local government services in St Helens. St Helens has a population of 177,888 people, with an expected increase of 5% by 2025. 

The Problem

St Helens required the ability to integrate data from a wide range of internal and external sources to form comprehensive, accurate and up-to-date holistic views of individuals and the families they belong to.

They needed a data driven method of identifying and profiling families who were eligible for support as part of the then national Troubled Families Programme (now Supporting Families Programme).


The Supporting Families Programme

The Supporting Families Programme is administered by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (or DLUHC, formerly the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government).

Click here to view the latest updates from DLUHC about the Supporting Families Programme.

The original Troubled Families Programme was the first national, systematic approach to driving real change in outcomes for families with multiple problems and to change the services that worked with them. Under this programme, each local authority was assigned a target number of families to identify, work with and support.

The first challenge for any local authority is in the identification of eligible families. By its very nature, the programme is aiming to improve outcomes for families with multiple problems that are supported by multiple teams and partner agencies, with data being collected and managed in a huge number of different systems and databases.

Information needed to be collected from each of the many data sources, matched together to form a complete view of every family member and then rolled up into family compositions. These family compositions then need to be profiled to assess their levels of need and confirm if these needs match the requirements defined by the national programme. For those families that do qualify for the programme, continual monitoring of their needs and progress is required to measure outcomes.

The local authority also needed a way of evidencing the turn-around of families they identify and support. They needed the ability to track their journey and show the progress they make. This evidencing needed to incorporate information from all supporting services and partners such as social care, schools, NHS and Police records. Without this evidencing the local authority could not receive their funding by proving their progress for Payment by Results (PBR) claims. 

How we solved the problem

Sentinel’s industry leading Data Integration Platform has the flexibility and capability to integrate, transform and profile extremely large volumes of complex data consistently and compliantly from any data source. Onto this, we have developed our Supporting Families Portal, which has been specifically designed to meet the needs of the supporting Families Programme.

Sentinel Partner’s resulting Supporting Families solution:

  • Allows data to be integrated from any council systems, and any partner agencies such as the Police, NHS and central government departments such as the DWP
  • Any number of data sources can be merged together
  • Data is matched to produce a complete picture of each family member
  • Each family member is then matched into the family they belong to
  • Our in-built data profiling functionality provides a fully flexible and automated method of measuring each families’ circumstances against eligibility criteria for the programme
  • Eligible families are highlighted to the team as soon as they cross the threshold. The profiling criteria and thresholds are fully configurable, allowing the council teams to adapt to the requirements of each phase of the programme
  • The council team can choose which families to attach and work with, and a Supporting Families Case is created automatically by the system for each attached family
  • The solution continues to track incidents, events and outcomes for all families, along with monitoring the support services provided
  • The solution builds up a longitudinal view of family progress and highlights those families who are eligible for Payment by Result (PBR) claims
  • All output for the DLUHC National Team is supported by the system, including PBR Claims and audit reports, plus any national submissions such as the FPD Report

The Supporting Family solution offers fully configurable eligibility rules, enabling St Helens to define profiling rules for eligibility according to the requirements of the Supporting Families programme and their own local TFOP (Trouble Families Outcomes Plan) which incorporates the council's own priorities in responding to their family's needs. 

The platform also tracks the cohort’s continuing progress and show where interventions and support services have been successful and where they have not. This allows them to focus resources on the more effective services. 

Due to the sensitivity of the information involved, shielded record controls and very strict access rights were an integral part of the solution. Information is only shared on a very controlled, need-to-know basis.  

The benefits of using our data platform

St Helens were required to identify families in need of support. Sentinel Partner’s Supporting Family software enabled them to identify families more effectively in need. Many of these families are now funded and achieving successful outcomes with significant and sustained progress. 

The built-in audit reporting provides detailed evidence required for PBR claims and other government reporting requirements. Key tasks were automated, increasing accuracy & efficiency while reducing costs.  

The quality of data available across the authority and its partner agencies has been enhanced and is far more visible. 

As of April 2019, 27 per cent of the families (468) attached to the programme have been turned around. Additionally, 527 families have achieved significant and sustained progress and 41 have achieved continuous employment. 

With the help of our software, St Helens now meet all of their Troubled Families/Supporting Families Programme targets and are in the top ten performing councils across the country for the programme.

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