Communities Minister Eric Pickles Visits Wandsworth

As troubled family scheme expanded

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A programme similar to one being successfully piloted by Wandsworth Council to help troubled families is to be rolled-out nationwide.

Communities minister Eric Pickles praised Wandsworth’s success helping 30 local families through its Family Recovery Project launched last year when he paid a visit to the scheme on Monday June 11. He told staff: “It just goes to show, if you want something done, go to Wandsworth.”

The radical programme aims to get people back into work, break the cycle of benefit dependency and help make families more stable.

The success of pilot schemes like the one in Wandsworth has led the Government to launch a new Troubled Families programme across all the top-tier UK local authorities.

The pilot scheme was established November 2011 and currently covers 22 families with 90 family members involved. As part of this new, expanded, scheme, Wandsworth’s work will be scaled-up to help 660 families over three years.

The scheme is being run on a payment-by-results basis with up to £4,000 available for every family that is successfully turned around. This means that up to £2,200,000 will be available to Wandsworth over the next three years.

Troubled families can make disproportionate demands on the public purse, with each seeking help from up to 20 different professionals. The fall-out includes social problems such as truancy, anti-social behaviour, misuse of drugs and alcohol and youth crime.

The new approach means different agencies such as the police, NHS Wandsworth and Jobcentre Plus work together to create a ‘team around the family” to help set goals and implement a tailor-made plan to help them.

Families with the most complex needs are identified, and the different agencies work together to tackle the root cause of problems rather than just the symptoms.

Executive member for children’s services Cllr Kathy Tracey said:
“We have already seen some real improvements to the lives of the people we have helped through our Family Recovery Project, and we are delighted that our success has helped lead to the national launch of this scheme

“We will now be able to take the help we provide up to the next level and make real and lasting changes to the lives of our most vulnerable residents – changes that will have a positive knock-on effect in the communities in which they live. Our participation in this scheme is all part of our determination to raise the aspirations of local people, give them better choices and opportunities and make Wandsworth an even better place to live.”

How the scheme affected the families:

• Improvements in educational attainment across almost all families
• Decrease in school suspensions
• Vast improvements in school attendance across all families

Employment outcomes
• Temporary full-time employment found for long term unemployed
• Family member helped onto a full-time access to nursing qualification
• Family members learning to improve numeracy and literacy – a key barrier to work
• Taking steps towards overcome benefit dependency and encouraging financial independence

Housing and debt
• Established debt management plans
• Family moved from an overcrowded 1-bed flat to a 3-bed home
• Home environments brought up to decent standards

Crime and ASB
• Significant decrease in Police reports filed for missing young people
• Decreasing Police call outs
• Decreasing anti-social behaviour reports
• One family with a high offending rate has gone without an arrest for 4 months

Parenting, Family and Child Protection
• High take up of parenting courses
• Children engaging with positive, social activities - e.g. sports clubs, museum trips
• Improved family routines and relationship building
• Nursery placements secured for young children
• 5 Child Protection Plans now removed
• Increased GP enrolment and increased immunisation take up

Substance misuse and domestic violence
• One parent has successfully completed a 12 week substance misuse programme and has maintained sobriety
• Families starting domestic violence group work shops

June 7, 2012