Top tier signs up to help troubled families

All eligible councils have now signed up to the government’s troubled families’ programme.

Communities and local government secretary Eric Pickles said the agreement of all top-tier councils to join the payment-by-results programme meant: “The government has got the confidence of local councils that together we can tackle a problem that councils have long grappled with”.

The £448m scheme is designed to give effect to prime minister David Cameron’s statement last year that he wanted to see the lives of 120,000 troubled families turned round within three years.

It seeks to reduce truancy, youth crime and anti-social behaviour and help adults into work.

Mr Pickles said the families concerned cost taxpayers some £9bn a year, £8bn of which arose from reacting to their problems.

“We cannot go on spending so much taxpayers’ money on such a small amount of families without turning their lives around once and for all,” he said.

“We now have an opportunity to offer real and lasting change for these families and the communities around them.”

Council will receive payments of £3,900 for hitting targets:
- more than 85 per cent attendance in schools and fewer than three exclusions from school
- a 60 per cent reduction in anti-social behaviour across the whole family
- and a 33 per cent reduction in youth offending

Alternatively, helping any adult in the family move off benefits and into continuous work will attract a payment of £4,000.

Councils must make up the remainder of the average £10,000 needed for each successful intervention. The Department for Communities & Local Government’s framework document for the programme is here.

The DCLG’s Troubled Families Team is headed by Louise Casey and will be joined next week by Robert McCulloch-Graham on secondment from his post as director of children’s services at Barnet LBC.

Local Government Association chair Sir Merrick Cockell (Con) said: “Town halls have been clear about the importance of up-front funding and are therefore pleased the government has listened to their representations. The only way to find savings in the long term is to make the initial investment.

“Make no mistake though, councils have been working closely with local partners for quite some time to put into action intensive intervention work. This isn’t a new approach but the degree of funding can help take this to the next level.”

Shadow communities secretary Hilary Benn accused Mr Pickles of spending the “past eight months announcing and re-announcing this policy on troubled families”. Councils would welcome the money, he added, but “other measures imposed with Mr Pickles’ support, like cutting Sure Start and decimating Youth Intervention Teams won’t help”.

 

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