Help for troubled families

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PLANS aimed at transforming the lives of “troubled families” are set to be discussed by senior councillors.

Hartlepool has been identified as having 290 troubled families, with 242 eligible for help under a new Government scheme which will see £440m pumped in nationally.

Over the next three years the aim is to turn around the lives of 120,000 families.

Under the scheme, families that sign up would be given action plans, a case worker, and more targeted partnership work across agencies.

It aims to transform lives and reduce the long-term financial burden on services.

Members of Hartlepool Borough Council’s cabinet committee will meet next week to discuss how the programme will work in town.

Troubled families are households who:

● Are involved in crime and anti-social behaviour.

● Have children not in school.

● Have an adult on out-of-work benefits or cause high costs to the public purse.

Local authorities can also target families with looked-after children, prolific offenders, substance misuse or if there is a history of domestic violence.

A report by Dave Stubbs, director of regeneration and neighbourhoods, said: “It is recognised that we may not succeed in turning around every family that we work with, and therefore it is likely that we will need to work with more families than the indicative numbers identified.

“Funding is available for five out of every six families which, based on Hartlepool’s indicative number of 290, means there are 242 families to be worked with through the troubled families programme over three years.

“The expectation is that the other 48 families will be worked with through existing provision and they will still need to be monitored and results reported.”

A third of the troubled families will be targeted in 2012-13, and over the course of three years, Hartlepool could be in line for funding worth almost £1m, depending on results.

Estimates show that intensive work is expected to cost £10,000 per family and Hartlepool would be allocated £4,000 per family.

Turning troubled families around means getting children back into school and getting parents on to a work programme which will mean the families are less of a burden on the taxpayer.

Officers, who say it is about “working smarter”, have previously stressed identified families will not be forced to sign up.

They say Hartlepool is well placed to deliver the programme due to strategies already in place, including the Team Around the Household initiative.

New community budgets also give local authorities freedom to pool resources aimed at breaking down bureaucracy and finding better ways to work together.

A joint Troubled Families/Community Budget framework for 2012-15 called Think Family, Think Communities, has been developed and cabinet is asked to endorse it.

Prime Minister David Cameron first announced the Troubled Families programme in December last year.

The cabinet meeting is due to take place on Monday, June 11, at 9.30am at the Civic Centre, in Victoria Road.