The Big Society was one of the UK Prime Minister’s flagship policy ideas prior to his election in 2010 and has since become part of the UK coalition government’s legislative programme. A key aspect of the Big Society is to mend ‘societally Broken Britain’ by supporting families as ‘strong families are the foundation of a bigger, stronger society’. However in the aftermath of the riots of August 2011 in London and other parts of England, the UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, has suggested that parents of children who regularly truant need to be confronted and challenged and has proposed penalising parents of truanting children by cutting their benefits. This article considers whether withholding benefits from families is an effective means of tackling antisocial behaviour or does this plan represent an ideological view of welfare recipients as being irresponsible and a commitment to the penalization of the socially excluded? This article will consider whether the Big Society truly offers the prospect of a new approach to young people and families deemed to be ‘in trouble’ or whether the August 2011 riots created the environment for justifying cuts in public spending by shifting responsibility for crime and crime control from the criminal justice system onto vulnerable young people and low-income families.