Town halls 'helping more than 30,000 problem families’

13 May 13
Councils have begun to help more than a quarter of the 120,000 troubled families that Prime Minister David Cameron wants to ‘turn round’ by 2015, the government announced today.

By Richard Johnstone | 13 May 2013

Councils have begun to help more than a quarter of the 120,000 troubled families that Prime Minister David Cameron wants to ‘turn round’ by 2015, the government announced today.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said more than half of families defined as needing help had been identified during the first year of the £448m initiative.

Cameron announced the plan, which pays councils by results, in December 2011 and the scheme was formally launched last June.

Publishing updated figures today, Pickles said the programme was ‘on track to deliver life-changing results for families and communities' across England. Councils were working with more than 35,000 troubled families and had identified more than 66,000 of the families, he added.

Troubled families are defined as those who meet three criteria: involvement in antisocial behaviour; children truanting regularly from school; and an adult receiving out-of-work benefits.It is estimated this group cost the public sector around £9bn annually, mainly in protecting the children and on police responses to crime and antisocial behaviour, which ministers have pledged to reduce.

Under the three-year programme, councils identify families in their area and then co-ordinate services for them in a bid to improve provision and reduce duplication.

Authorities are paid an attachment fee, worth up to £3,200, when they begin working with families and are then paid based on results. Possible payments can total £4,000 if children’s attendance at school improves, ant-social behaviour is reduced and adults join the government’s Work Programme. However, councils are expected to meet £6,000 of the average £10,000 cost of successful interventions.

Pickles said ‘remarkable progress’ had already been made. ‘Troubled families are often living miserable lives and can also cause misery to the communities around them, draining around £9bn per year from the public purse.

‘This programme is not only transforming the lives of families we have too often not got to grips with in the past, but it will deliver considerable savings to the taxpayer by reducing their demand on services and helping them make a positive contribution to society instead.’

Responding to the update, Local Government Association chair Sir Merrick Cockell said councils had already turned around the lives of 1,675 families, which would save the public purse millions.

He added: ‘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's 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.’

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