Government troubled families scheme branded a failure in the North-East

The Northern Echo: Eric Pickles Eric Pickles

A MUCH-hyped Government scheme to target ‘troubled families’ is failing to help them find work, a study warns today (Tuesday).

The ‘troubled families’ programme – hailed as a success by Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles – is criticised by the National Audit Office (NAO).

Only last week, Mr Pickles said the scheme was “on track”, suggesting the lives of more than 22,000 such families had been “turned around” with intensive help.

That included 1,697 successes in this region, including in County Durham (312), Darlington (37), Middlesbrough (126), Stockton-on-Tees (173) and North Yorkshire (238).

But the figures also show that only 93 people in those 1,697 families – just 5.5 per cent – have found permanent work.

Not a single person has found a job in Darlington or Hartlepool and very small numbers in Middlesbrough (six), Sunderland (three) and County Durham (14).

Now the NAO has warned the scheme is “underperforming”, pointing to “poor co-ordination” in a programme that was launched quickly, following the 2011 riots.

Its report agrees there is “evidence that families are beginning to benefit”, from a scheme expected to cost £1bn over four years.

But it adds: “There is a risk that the expectations for the programmes will not be achieved.

“Evidence from programmes similar to that of the DCLG [department for communities and local government] suggests that local authorities will need to invest further to meet its target.”

Families are classed as ‘troubled’ if members are judged to have at least five characteristics from a seven-strong list.

They are; no work, poor quality housing, no qualifications, mental health problems, long-standing disability, low income and an inability to afford food or clothing.

Councils are paid up to £4,000 for each family they help. At the start, 80 per cent - or £3,200 – was paid upfront, reducing to 40 per cent in 2014-15.

But the NAO also expressed concern that:

  •  Only 62,000 families were currently in the programme - 13 per cent below the number that “might reasonably” have been found.
  •  A family can be counted as being “turned around” if it shows improvement in just one area.
  • Cash-starved councils are spending only the upfront attachment fee on troubled families – not the further sums earned under ‘payment-by-results’.

The programme was launched in 2011 – in the wake of that summer’s riots – when David Cameron vowed to turn around the lives of 120,000 problem families by 2015.

The NAO also raised concerns about a related £200m ‘families with multiple problems’, scheme, to find work 22 per cent of people within three years.

So far, only 30 people in the North-East (against a target of 1,327) and 90 in Yorkshire (where there was a target of 2,239) are in jobs.

Comments (3)

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8:19am Tue 3 Dec 13

Nomatterwhat says...

They have to want a job for this to succeed and the vast majority will do anything rather than work.
They have to want a job for this to succeed and the vast majority will do anything rather than work. Nomatterwhat

12:55pm Tue 3 Dec 13

stevegg says...

The type of 'troubled families' they are targetting dont want to change their lifestyles, its ingrained on them, many for generations, they expect everything to be done for them and handed on a plate and view the benefits system and taxpayers as there to be exploited. The vast majority dont want to work as they get far more money on benefits (and thats after the so called cap), many live in poor quality housing as they have been barred from social housing after making other peoples lives a misery around them now having to rent privately again at our expense, they have perceived mental health issues due to their habitual drug/alcohol abuse as thats their lifestyle, many have long standing 'disabilities' as they are experts at defauding the system and the only reason they cant afford food or clothing is because they spend OUR money on other things like 60 TV's, the best sky package, latest phones etc, they probably get their food by shoplifting. Surely prolific crime should be another measure? Another gimmick that in a decades time will be seen as a complete waste of public money by our politicians as they wont admit it now, something which all decent people know now!. Pick an isolated island off our coast, we have enough, and ship these people there where they can squabble amongst each other instead of making our lives a misery and draining hardworking taxes.
The type of 'troubled families' they are targetting dont want to change their lifestyles, its ingrained on them, many for generations, they expect everything to be done for them and handed on a plate and view the benefits system and taxpayers as there to be exploited. The vast majority dont want to work as they get far more money on benefits (and thats after the so called cap), many live in poor quality housing as they have been barred from social housing after making other peoples lives a misery around them now having to rent privately again at our expense, they have perceived mental health issues due to their habitual drug/alcohol abuse as thats their lifestyle, many have long standing 'disabilities' as they are experts at defauding the system and the only reason they cant afford food or clothing is because they spend OUR money on other things like 60 TV's, the best sky package, latest phones etc, they probably get their food by shoplifting. Surely prolific crime should be another measure? Another gimmick that in a decades time will be seen as a complete waste of public money by our politicians as they wont admit it now, something which all decent people know now!. Pick an isolated island off our coast, we have enough, and ship these people there where they can squabble amongst each other instead of making our lives a misery and draining hardworking taxes. stevegg

3:15pm Tue 3 Dec 13

Spy Boy says...

The schemes to get people back to work do not work. There are enough people out there looking for work and hoping to find it and even they can't find good jobs, or any job at all. At least they do try. Some do for interviews, supposedly looking for a job, but do enough in the interview to ensure that they won't get it. Is there no feedback from the employers ? As mentioned above, some people won't work, so it's time that the government came up with an organisation that would put groups of the workshy actively to work. There are plenty of things that need to be done. A few weeks clearing up all the litter in parks and streets would be a start and then they could go onto labouring on larger projects. They cannot expect to stay on unearned benefits for their whole lives. It may sound a bit draconian, but something must be done and done very soon.

I would have thought that 'Bully Boy' Pickles would have been able to do this instead of hitting our services on orders from his Fat Cat bosses. He needs to instil the work ethic into the idle. People like Pickles just don't understand what is going on down at the bottom of the pile, he and his cronies just ride along on a wave of expense account lunches and arrogance.
The schemes to get people back to work do not work. There are enough people out there looking for work and hoping to find it and even they can't find good jobs, or any job at all. At least they do try. Some do for interviews, supposedly looking for a job, but do enough in the interview to ensure that they won't get it. Is there no feedback from the employers ? As mentioned above, some people won't work, so it's time that the government came up with an organisation that would put groups of the workshy actively to work. There are plenty of things that need to be done. A few weeks clearing up all the litter in parks and streets would be a start and then they could go onto labouring on larger projects. They cannot expect to stay on unearned benefits for their whole lives. It may sound a bit draconian, but something must be done and done very soon. I would have thought that 'Bully Boy' Pickles would have been able to do this instead of hitting our services on orders from his Fat Cat bosses. He needs to instil the work ethic into the idle. People like Pickles just don't understand what is going on down at the bottom of the pile, he and his cronies just ride along on a wave of expense account lunches and arrogance. Spy Boy

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