Troubleshooters scheme to tackle 'troubled families'

 

David Cameron: ''People in troubled families aren't worthless... I will not allow them to be written off''

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David Cameron says he is determined to "get to grips" with tackling England's most troubled families by pledging a network of troubleshooters.

The PM promised more targeted support, with families getting one dedicated worker rather than a "string of well-meaning, disconnected officials".

The government will provide £448m - but councils must provide 60% of funding.

Labour say ministers have cut Family Intervention Projects and the work councils had been doing on the issue.

Mr Cameron has promised to turn around the lives of 120,000 families by 2015.

Under the government's measure, families need to meet five out of seven criteria - including truanting children, parents with addiction and anti-social behaviour - to be classified as "troubled".

'Ruining their lives'

The government is diverting £448m from existing departmental budgets over four years to help pay for a network of people who will identify families in need of help, make sure they get access to the right services and ensure that action is taken.

But the money will only cover 40% of costs, and councils who want to use it will have to agree to fund the other 60% themselves. Workers will be "paid by results", Mr Cameron said - for example, are children in school and has anti-social behaviour stopped?

Progress will be reported to Louise Casey, the newly appointed head of the Troubled Families Team.

BBC political correspondent Carole Walker said local authorities would hire the troubleshooters, who could be from organisations including local charities and private firms.

But she said there were some concerns that the money was not enough to tackle the problem, and cash-strapped councils would have to find much of the funding themselves.

A map showing areas with "troubled" families

Families which refuse to co-operate could face benefit sanctions or eviction - but Downing Street says the vast majority want help with their problems.

In a speech in Birmingham, Mr Cameron said he was an optimist, and the families depicted in the press as "neighbours from hell" should not be "written off as unreadable or unteachable".

He rejected arguments that a "Shameless culture" was now part of British life, and said it was only a relatively small amount of people who were causing "a large proportion of problems in our society".

He said there had to be a big change in the way the state interacted with such families, as different agencies currently dealt with different problems: "No-one sees the whole family, no-one grips the whole problem."

Instead of a top-down approach which families could find "faceless, disjointed and unhelpful", he wanted to "empower" families to sort out their own problems by providing them with a single person to deal with.

While he said his scheme was a "big ask", he believed turning their lives around was "doable".

Ministers are modelling their strategy on the family intervention project adopted by the last Labour government, in which a single social worker is sent in to gain an overview of the problems facing a family and to recommend the best course of action.

The prime minister said troubleshooters would work out a plan of action with families, which could include basic things like getting children to school on time and making sure they were properly fed.

And they would help deal with the "28 or more different state services that come calling at the door" so that rather than a string of "disconnected" officials, they could get a "clear hard-headed recognition of how the family is going wrong".

'Incredibly effective'

Hilton Dawson, chief executive of the British Association of Social Workers and a former Labour MP, criticised the PM's words about officials as "yet another pointless attack on the very people whose life's work it is to help others".

Dame Clare Tickell, chief executive of the charity Action for Children, which works with troubled families, welcomed the "renewed focus" on the issue and said that in her experience, a lot of the families felt overwhelmed and were "delighted" to have help sorting out their problems.

"If you can get alongside them - and the voluntary sector is particularly good at doing that - and help them to work out solutions to their own problems, in a co-ordinated way, that can be incredibly effective."

Start Quote

If David Cameron demands results from local authorities whilst pulling the carpet from beneath them while reforms are being shelved, this could be a wasted opportunity”

End Quote Gloria De Piero Shadow home office minister

Ministers say troubled families are costing the state an estimated £9bn a year in terms of spending on the NHS, the police and social services.

Most support for families is now provided through local authorities, although sometimes contracted out to other organisations. However, funding for early intervention grants has been cut by more than 10%.

Barnardo's chief executive Anne Marie Carrie said the voluntary sector had an important role to play in helping families and should be involved in planning and delivering services.

But she added: "Worryingly, 67% of Barnardo's services that have been hit hardest by local authority cuts have been those which provide family support or early intervention for children in difficulty. This means some families now have to wait until their problems are more serious before getting the help they need."

For Labour, Gloria De Piero said there was only so much troubleshooters could do when cuts were hitting family intervention projects.

"In addition, the government has torn up Labour's total place programme, which was bringing together all of the local agencies needed to provide services to families, and saved money, setting this work back.

"This is important work but if David Cameron demands results from local authorities whilst pulling the carpet from beneath them while reforms are being shelved, this could be a wasted opportunity to properly expand Labour's family intervention policies."

 

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  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 848.

    Personally I would sterilize any man or women with 3 children by 3 different partners, that at least would be a start.

    --------------
    Would seem a bit harsh on Sir Mick Jagger,but I am sure you only meant poor people with loads of kids!
    Hang on He's got 4 from 4 ,run for it Mick!

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 847.

    835
    if it locks up record numbers its worked.
    less scumbags on street.

  • Comment number 846.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 845.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 844.

    Rebecca Riot 830:
    For THAT point I agree with you in that there are people with bad attitudes rich and poor. I think though that the majority of people can see (and perhaps you can't) that there's a problem with people having kids purely to increase their benefits, and that there are folk who have made benefit scrounging a career, and that there is a high crime rate in areas where this is rife.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 843.

    What a waste of money at especially this time , Politicians again not being in the real world "Leopards dont change their spots"
    Lets hope our councillors dont go for it, 60% ???? that money "if there is such a pot" should be assigned to more worthy causes,

  • Comment number 842.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 841.

    @834.RedRebel54
    "THAT was a living wage, and was about 10% LESS than the average wage at the time. Can this be done now???"

    Yes, though it's clearly much harder, and choice of type/location of house is considerably more limited thanks to a housing market overinflated by a couple of decades of people using it as a means of speculating.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 840.

    From what personal experience is Cameron using to come up with this idea? Answer: None! Those of us us who HAVE had such experience know that it simply is NOT going to work! What WILL work is rigorous enforcement of existing laws and appropriate punishments for offenders: build more prisons please - and make them NOT the cosy hide-aways they are now.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 839.

    Overbreeding just to pick up benefit should be stopped

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 838.

    I saw one problem family on the news.
    How were they allowed to have 10 kids.
    I suppose when you have roll models like Ulrika Johnson with 4 kids and 4 different fathers ( Ms Johnson still gives advice in newspaper and magazine articles lol ) we shouldn’t expect any different.
    Personally I would sterilize any man or women with 3 children by 3 different partners, that at least would be a start.

  • rate this
    +9

    Comment number 837.

    @790.thinker1214

    You are right with the law bit.

    Do you remember that young bloke some years ago who won the lottery ? What a lot would call a 'chav'.
    Did all that money make him any less of a chav ? No - in fact he became even more of a nuisance and acted like a complete tool. Think he even went down for a while.

    It's the attitude and lack of responsibility which needs addressing.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 836.

    whirlygig
    2 MINUTES AGO
    821 - still not heard the actual speech yet then? I heard it live in the car at about 11am today and the figure definately left Mr Cameron's lips. Or will you next say the video is a recording and could have been doctored.
    -----
    Well if Cameron said it it must be true!
    Hang on just have to let the flying pig in.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 835.

    As a society, we should reward the good and punish the bad, but we should also have an avenue for redemption. The 'three strikes' principle never works. Look at America, where you can receive life for a minor crime under this principle. They have the highest prison population (percentage wise) of any civilisation in history. It was a popular policy, but has failed to act as a deterrent.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 834.

    Paul. 25 years ago I could afford to buy my house, a car, and have one holiday a year on less than average wage while my wife stayed at home for the kid(s). THAT was a living wage, and was about 10% LESS than the average wage at the time. Can this be done now???

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 833.

    805.yellowsandydog
    14 Minutes ago
    Someone on benefits is still going to need crime to fund their habit and it would do nothing to stop drug addicts neglecting their children.
    Why would they need to commit crime to fund their habit, as it wouldnt be on the blackmarket and would in theory be so much cheaper. Agree about child neglect, but at least we would have more resources to deal with it.

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 832.

    747. digdeep
    As long as society continues to ghettoize the poor by forcing them to live in dehumanizing soul destroying estates problems will continue. People are influenced by the actions of others around them"

    So, what should we do? Move them to nice new estates, which quickly become "ghettoized" because you've just moved all the problem people there?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 831.

    821 - still not heard the actual speech yet then? I heard it live in the car at about 11am today and the figure definately left Mr Cameron's lips. Or will you next say the video is a recording and could have been doctored.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 830.

    @Bradford

    "Least able and wealthy in society to breed"

    Well I guess most folk in society enjoy having sex. Perhaps that explains it.

    I know of several wealthy fat chaps who have been through a succession of wives and having several kids each time. A whole string of them, neglected and deserted. Mr Big man then on to the next round of fun.

    It cuts both ways you know, rich and poor!!

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 829.

    Those of us old enough to have enjoyed an era free university education, cheap energy, houses you could buy even on a single average wage, and a council house with a decent garden if you couldn't, should consider that many of the problems we're all facing are due to running up so much collective debt that future generations are financially stuffed.

 

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