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More than 1,600 troubled families ‘turned around’

By Vivienne Russell | 4 March 2013

Councils in England have helped to improve the lives of more than 1,600 problem families in just nine months, according to figures published today.

The information, based on data submitted by upper-tier authorities, is included in the Department for Communities and Local Government’s progress report on the £450m Troubled Families Programme.

This showed that a total of 1,675 families had been ‘turned round’ by January of this year, that is their children were regularly attending school and not committing crimes or the adults were in work.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has pledged to give councils up to £4,000 for each family they successfully help through the programme, which came into effect last April.

Of the 118,000 troubled families estimated to live in England, almost 63,000 (53%) have been identified by councils. Among these, more than 23,000 (37%) were being worked with as of December 2012.

Early successes were notable in Lancashire, Newcastle upon Tyne and Leeds although these authorities all had high numbers of troubled families to deal with. They had each turned round more than 100 families.

In Wiltshire, where 277 troubled families have been identified, 122 (44%) have been turned round following a council intervention.

However, many authorities have yet to report any successful interventions. These include Birmingham, which has more than 4,000 families to help; Kent, with over 2,500, and Liverpool, with 2,100.

Pickles said today’s figures showed the Troubled Families Programme was ‘on track’ and changing families ‘for the better’.

He said: ‘We are ahead of schedule on the number of families that have been identified for intervention and I am delighted that 23,000 families are already being worked with, less than a year after the programme began.’

Local Government Association chair Sir Merrick Cockell said: 'Improving lives goes to the heart of what councils do, and the Troubled Families Programme has built on the excellent work councils were already doing to better co-ordinate support across the public sector for families who need it.

'The rapid progress being made by local authorities vindicates the government decision to put councils at the centre of this programme and demonstrates the huge difference councils can make in this area when given the necessary powers and adequate resources.'

Pickles was joined by Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith to announce the creation of 150 specialist Jobcentre Plus advisors to work with councils’ troubled families teams. The advisers will provide intensive support to the families, including practice support such as CV writing and interview skills. They will also put families in contact with local employers and track the progress made to find them work.

Local authorities will be expected to share information with their local Jobcentre Plus to help foster a co-ordinated approach. The 94 councils with the highest numbers of troubled families will be offered up to six fully funded advisers. The remaining 58 authorities will be offered a single point of contact within Jobcentre Plus and given practical support to promote employed in their area.

Duncan Smith said finding and keeping a job could be vital to turning round the lives and aspirations of troubled families.

‘Work can enable parents to act as role models for their children, as children growing up in workless households are more likely to experience worklessness themselves,’ he said.

‘Jobcentre Plus advisers will now be working with families to offer more targeted support to those who have been failed by the system and where no-one is working or there is a history of worklessness across generations.’




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