Almost 900 families in Bradford have seen their lives “turned around” by a national scheme to help problem households.
After early intervention by the Council there has been less offending and better school attendance by these families – according to a new report.
The Families First programme is Bradford’s response to the Government’s Troubled Family Programme – an attempt to save the taxpayer billions by preventing families from slipping into lives of crime, poverty and dependence on state handouts.
About 120,000 families across the country were identified as “troubled” and the Government estimated £9 billion was spent on these families in the form of benefits, police interventions, court proceedings and prison.
Bradford was allocated £6.67 million over three years, and the budget is on “payment by results” basis.
Locally, 1,760 families were identified, and the Council has met the target of improving the lives of 893 of these.
It has until the end of March next year to work with the remaining families.
Troubled families can cost the taxpayer huge amounts of money.
The cost of prison for a young person can vary between £59,000 and £219,000 a year, while a domestic violence incident can cost the taxpayer £18,730, taking into account police intervention, the court system and health service intervention.
The cost of an individual spending a lifetime on benefits is £430,000.
The most recent results show there had been a 49 per cent reduction in children from these families being suspended from school, a 40 per cent reduction in “detected offences” by young people in these families and a 2.3 per cent reduction in unauthorised absences from school.
The report says that many of the families had welcomed the help, and “often said they had been asking for help for some time.”
Issues encountered include low self-esteem, apathy and lack of basic parenting skills.
The Government has announced further funding for the 2015/16 financial year, but anything beyond that will depend on the results of the national elections.