Review of the Family Fund Trust


The Family Fund Trust (FFT) was formed in 1973 by the UK Government, originally to support families affected by Thalidomide. The Family Fund is now the UK’s largest grant-giving organisation helping families with disabled children. Grants can come in the form of cash, bank transfer or gift vouchers. In 2011/12, the Family Fund provided grant items to 59,166 families across the UK.

The review had five key objectives:

  1. To compare the efficiency and cost effectiveness of the current Family Fund model with alternative delivery models;
  2. To assess the process of awareness raising with families and allocation and distribution of funds;
  3. To identify the short and long term impact of initial and repeat funding on families;
  4. To measure the qualitative impact of home visits; and
  5. To review the appropriateness of the role of UK Government as a direct grant provider.

What we did

The review included the following methods:

  • A review of strategic documents, activity reports and research reports produced by the Family Fund;
  • Semi-structured interviews with 22 key representatives from the Family Fund and the four UK Governments;
  • A survey of 2,848 parents/carers who had successfully applied to the Family Fund in the last 18 months;
  • Case study visits to 20 families who responded to the survey;
  • Telephone interviews with 20 parents/carers whose application to the Family Fund had been turned down within the last 12 months;
  • Formation of an expert reference group (ERG) of 12 individuals across eight voluntary and community sector organisations operating in the field of children with disabilities;
  • Desk based research to gather information on alternative models; and
  • Options appraisal of four alternative models utilising different markets and supply chains for comparison.


This review revealed that the Family Fund Trust is working hard to deliver grants in the most efficient way possible and has made huge improvements to its working over the last five years. Based on these findings we made a strong recommendation that the Family Fund should remain as is it and not be replaced with any of the alternative models that were considered.

The insights gained from the review have helped to secure the future of the Family Fund Trust. Following the DfE’s publication of the review in April 2013 the Government announced that it is committed to supporting the £27.3 million grant fund for at least another two years. Edward Timpson, Minister for Children and Families, said:

“Families with disabled or seriously ill children will be able to apply for items and activities that will make a real difference to their family lives. I’m delighted that in these difficult times we’re able to commit to this significant fund for at least another two years”.