More cash to target problem families

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Hundreds of extra so-called “troubled families” in Leeds will be targeted after the city was selected to be part of a newly-extended government project.

Leeds was one of the pilot areas for an initiative which was launched following the London riots in 2011 to deal with families who were blamed for costing the public purse hundreds of millions of pounds.

Authorities in the city claim they have already successfully transformed the lives of more than 1,600 families who were draining resources by committing crime and anti-social behaviour, truanting from school and living off benefits.

Now government officials have announced that Leeds City Council will be one of 51 authorities to start work early on an extended five-year programme that will receive hundreds of millions of pounds in funding.

It means hundreds more families will get help – and could see the council rake in £11million under a payment-by-results scheme, once it proves those families are no longer causing major issues.

Coun Judith Blake, who has responsibility for children’s services, said: “With this funding we are able to help families tackle the root of their problems, which can too often spiral out of control and affect future generations.”

The government initially launched the Troubled Families programme to target 120,000 families who it said cost the public purse an average of £75,000 a year each.

Its latest research suggests there are 500,000 such families in Britain.

Louise Casey, head of the existing £448million Troubled Families programme, said the initiative took a “tough love” approach to dealing with those who caused problems.

“These families are off the barometer in the number of problems they have,” she said.

The project, which has been christened Families First in Leeds, sees key workers assigned to families to get children back to school, end bad behaviour and get parents into work.

Coun Blake addded: “Families First Leeds is building on existing good practice across the city and brings all agencies and council services together.  The additional support we are able to offer vulnerable families has a positive impact on the whole community.”

The expanded scheme will see authorities encouraged to children under five, as well as school-goers. There will also be a focus on improving health to take the strain off the NHS.

Communities and local government secretary Eric Pickles said: “The Troubled Families programme has been a brilliant partnership between the government and councils, changing the way services are run, saving taxpayers money and turning around the lives of some of the hardest to help in the country.”

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