Eric Pickles welcomes expansion of 'troubled' families scheme


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The Independent Online

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has insisted that problem households will not get “special treatment” as he welcomed an expansion of a Government scheme to help troubled families.

The Cabinet minister said the news that every eligible council has agreed to take part in a programme to help turn around the lives of 120,000 “troubled” families showed a “real determination” to deal with the long-standing problem.

Under the programme, local councils which succeed in tackling problem families are to be paid up to £4,000 for each household whose lives they turn around.

The payment-by-results scheme could produce significant savings for the taxpayer by reducing the £9 billion a year currently spent on the most troubled families in England, according to Mr Pickles.

Speaking on ITV's Daybreak, he denied the scheme represented special treatment for such families.

“This is not a special programme for troubled families, all the normal tests, all the normal penalties are going to be available to deal with them,” he said.

“Of course we are going to get beside troubled families, but also I think there has to be a dose of reality which says 'look, you are ruining your lives, you are ruining the lives of your children, you are not a victim, you can do something about this'.”

The Government has taken £448 million from Whitehall departmental budgets over three years to help pay for a network of people who will identify families in need of help, make sure they get access to the right services and ensure that action is taken.

But the money will cover only 40% of costs, and councils who want to use it will have to agree to fund the other 60% themselves.

The scheme aims to reduce truancy, youth crime and anti-social behaviour and help put adults on track to find work.