£5m to tackle ‘problem families’ in county

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More than £5 million will be spent on tackling the most troubled families in Northamptonshire over the next three years.

As part of the Government’s Troubled Families Programme, members of Northamptonshire County Council’s cabinet will next week back plans to target 1,200 problem families in the county between now and 2015.

The work will focus on families who have multiple problems, including children excluded from school, children with criminal records and parents out of work.

The council’s cabinet member for communities, Cllr Heather Smith, said the programme was designed to help families who had “got out of control”.

She said: “I’m optimistic this will make a real difference.

“The evidence will show if it’s worked, but we do believe this is the way forward.”

So far, a total of 158 families have been identified in the county who have combined problems with school exclusions, anti-social behaviour and out-of-work parents.

Of the 158 families which have all three problems, half are from Northampton.

The project to turn the families around will see the council, police and health authorities work together to tackle their problems.

It will see one “key worker” assigned to each family to “manage and assess them”.

Cllr Smith said she believed such a focused approach would help the families.

She said: “I think it’s really key for families in these situations that they have one key worker, instead of a whole myriad of people going to see them. That will mean the work is totally focused.”

The overall aim of the project is to reduce the cost problem families cause to society through crime and anti-social behaviour, help the long-term unemployed get into work and improve school attendance.

The Government believes it takes about £10,000 to turn around one problem family. It has guaranteed Northamptonshire £2.4 million to tackle the issue along with more money if its work is successful.

The county council is also due to invest £2.7 million.

Northamptonshire County Council has agreed to carry out work to “turn around” 400 problem families in 2012-13 and a further 800 by May 2015.

The Government has acknowledged that it may take up to three years to turn around some of Northamptonshire’s most troubled families.

To date, 674 families from across Northamptonshire have been identified to take part in the project.

The council has admitted it will not be possible to completely transform all 1,200 families because of their “complex and multiple needs”.

The council’s cabinet will discuss the plans on Tuesday.