Problem Families To Be Helped By 'Troubleshooters', David Cameron Announces

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More than 120,000 "troubled" families will benefit from a £448m plan aimed at turning their lives around, under government plans announced on Thursday.

David Cameron outlined plans for a network of “troubleshooters” who will be paid to help families, saying no one was beyond recovery.

The prime minister said the plans are part of his "passion" in politics - building a "stronger society" in the wake of the riots in England.

"My mission in politics – the thing I am really passionate about – is fixing the responsibility deficit," he said.

During a Q&A session following his speech Cameron accepted there was a "connection between the riots that we saw and the action that we're taking".

But questions were raised about the schemes feasibility, and that councils are expected to put in 60% of the cash.

Pressed on whether the money was enough, Cameron said the government had taken cash away from interventions which were not working and this money was "genuine" and "new". "Of course we're asking local authorities as well to come up with money as well to match what we're putting in... Of course charities will say it's not enough, that is a natural thing."

The prime minister promised that the scheme would "save money for taxpayers in the end", stressing "these things don’t always cost a lot but they make all the difference".

His plans were cautiously welcomed by Enver Solomon, Director of Policy at the Children's Society, who said while there are no "quick fixes" for troubled families, intensive support can "make a real difference".

The British Association of Social Workers, however, said the plans were "Dickensian":

“The prime minister’s comments about a 'string of well-meaning, disconnected officials' are more applicable to the members of his government than to social workers.

"This is yet another pointless attack on the very people whose life work it is to help others."

And the IPPR said there were "real questions" over the amount of funding - and the savings it could achieve.

"The evidence clearly shows that successful interventions of this kind cost £20,000 for every family which completes the programme.

"Based on this unit cost, the funding announced today, of around £450m over four years, would cover between 20,000 and 25,000 families. Even if the intention is that this funding will be matched by local authorities, it will struggle to cover the whole target group," Matt Cavanagh, Associate Director IPPR, said.

Communities secretary Eric Pickles will oversee the radical project, alongside former victims commissioner Louise Casey.

Speaking on Thursday morning Pickles pledged not to waste taxpayers' cash "by containing the existing system."

"We're going to get kids into school, get people into work and we're going to cut down on anti-social behaviour.

"And we're going to do this so that rather than these people giving the run-around to government agencies, we're going to have one person in one government agency in charge of the family, where the other agencies make sure they know what the family is doing. And that seems to me a very sensible, very straightforward way of going about it," he told Sky News.

Troubleshooters will be paid an average of £3,750 for each family they help, with some depending on results.
Councils are being asked to put forward over half of the costs.

Shadow home office minister Gloria De Piero said Labour wanted troubled families to turned around, but pointed out that the government had cut money for family intervention projects and early intervention schemes in local authorities.

Firstly expecting cash-strapped local authorities to provide 60% of the funding for new projects seems unrealistic when ring-fences have been removed and local services are already being closed down.

"Second, we think support for families should be consistent across the country to prevent multiple problems occurring in the first place. Cutting the Early Intervention Grant by 20 per cent, which covers things like childcare and mental health, could make things worse.

"Finally communities sometimes need tough tools and robust action. The Government’s commitment to scrapping ASBOs will weaken community tools to tackle anti-social behaviour."

More than 120,000 troubled families are estimated to cost the state £9bn a year - or £75,000 per family.

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