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Eric Pickles Criticises 'Problem Families' For Ruining Their Children's Lives

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ERIC PICKLES
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Problem families are destroying their own lives and those of their children, Eric Pickles said as he welcomed an expansion of a government scheme to help troubled families.

The scheme, aimed at approximately 120,000 families across Britain, will see local authorities and other agencies paid to better coordinate a strategy to "deal" with the families, which the Communities Secretary claimed costs the UK £9billion a year.

"It's costing us the best part of £9bn a year to deal with this," the Brentwood and Ongar MP said, an average £75,000 cost per family, "and the real shame of it is, out of the £9bn, £8bn is just reacting to the families," Pickles said on the BBC's Today show.

"Not only are these families destroying their own life chances but they're destroying the lives of their children and they are causing problems for their neighbours."

The scheme aims to reduce truancy, youth crime and anti-social behaviour and help put adults on track to find work.

Listing the criteria for quantifying what makes a 'problem family', Pickles mentioned families in which parents have mental health issues or are unemployed.

"Most troubled families have a range of problems including parents not working, kids not in school, families causing crime and anti-social behaviour, mental health problems, addiction to alcohol or drugs… it's those that are causing problems," Pickles said.

He added that he believed the scheme was important because: "There's a kind of acceptance that we tend to throw money at these folks for them to go away, we now have a chance, a window, to break that cycle of deprivation."

Appearing later on ITV's Daybreak, Pickles then said that: "Of course we are going to get beside troubled families, but also I think there has to be a dose of reality which says 'look, you are ruining your lives, you are ruining the lives of your children, you are not a victim, you can do something about this'."

According to the department's 'Troubled Families programme' document, the scheme will see local authorities essentially paid £4,000 per family should they achieve results such as "each child in the family has had fewer than 3 fixed exclusions and less than 15% of unauthorised absences in the last 3 school terms," or "at least one adult in the family has moved off out-of-work benefits into continuous employment in the last 6 months."

The Government has taken £448 million from Whitehall departmental budgets over three 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 cover only 40% of costs, and councils who want to use it will have to agree to fund the other 60% themselves.

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