Charity says troubled families need more than ‘crisis interventions’

Published 15 December 2011

The Government must commit more resources if it is to see a substantial change in the lives of Britain’s struggling families, says Family Action.

David Cameron is to unveil a new network of ‘troubleshooters’ to support 120,000 families deemed “troubled”.

The network will come at a cost of £450 million to the taxpayer, with the troubleshooters paid around £3,750 per family on the basis of results.

The troubleshooters will work closely with families that have a history of addiction, anti-social behaviour and child truanting.

The plans are being unveiled by the Prime Minister in Birmingham today as part of his strategy to bring about a “social recovery” in Britain.

He is expected to say: “So while the Government’s immediate duty is to deal with the budget deficit, my mission in politics – the thing I am really passionate about – is fixing the responsibility deficit, building a stronger society, in which more people understand their obligations, and more take control over their own lives and actions.

“I don’t think people are pre-programmed to fail because of where they come from and I hate the idea that we should just expect to pay ever larger amounts in welfare to an ever larger chunk of society and never expect the recipients to change their lives.”

Troubled families are estimated to cost the taxpayer £9bn in benefits and services and have come under the spotlight in the wake of last summer’s riots.

Family Action warned that paying troubleshooters on the basis of results may put children and parents at risk if parents are sent out to work before their problems have been resolved.

The charity welcomed the “significant” show of commitment to families from the Prime Minister today but said that turning around disadvantaged families would require “long-term and consistent support”.

In a statement, it said: “These are still crisis interventions and the levels of spending are not sustainable unless this money is ring-fenced and local authorities are given resources to match this funding.”

Family Action called for further investment in early intervention and support for struggling families with no history of anti-social behaviour.

“Many families may be suffering in silence behind closed doors, not committing anti-social behaviour but they also need support and early intervention services.

“Smart investment begins to tackle these problems early for the benefit of children and their parents.”

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