Troubled families will only have their lives improved and stop blighting communities if “troubled” local services are improved as well, the official in charge of the Government’s work in the area warned on Monday.
Speaking as ministers announced an additional £200m to help 400,000 of the most difficult families in the country, Louise Casey said police, job centre officials and social workers needed to change the way they worked to realise the programme’s potential.But she added she was optimistic that the current three-year scheme, launched by David Cameron last year, was on track to help 120,000 families in England by 2015 and could ultimately save the Government millions of pounds.
“We need to think about how, if I put it bluntly, we can turn round the troubled services around troubled families,” she told MPs.
“At the moment we have uncoordinated, reactive services…and we need to change the system. [If we don’t] it will be a massive missed opportunity and we won’t make the kind of saving that all of us want to make.”
Ms Casey singled out the police for criticism – saying that while they had to respond to 999 calls, they also needed to work to stop those calls happening in the first place.
“The police need to get a grip of this and see that they can’t just sit outside it – which they are doing in some area on the basis that they think it (the programme) will come and go. It won’t. We can’t have a situation where our response to a troubled family is that week in week out we respond to 999 calls that cost us a fortune – yet we don’t work out what’s happening in the family.”
Ms Casey was speaking after Danny Alexander, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury announced the additional funding to the Troubled Family programme as part of Wednesday’s Spending Review. The initiative is designed to identify families with a number of deep-seated problems – including welfare dependency, truancy and a history of drug and alcohol misuse – and to provide intensive and co-ordinated support.
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