Troubled families scheme 'must extend beyond 2015'

By Lauren Higgs

| 06 November 2012

The government should expand the eligibility criteria for the troubled families programme and extend the initiative beyond 2015, according to leaders at Westminster Council.

Westminster's family recovery programme has been held up as an example of how councils should carry out intensive intervention projects with families. Image: Howard Barlow

The London local authority, which is part of the tri-borough arrangement governing children’s services in Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea and Hammersmith & Fulham, is known for being at the forefront of work with troubled families.

Its family recovery programme, which has been running since 2008, has been held up as an example of how councils should carry out intensive intervention projects with families that have complex needs.

But Nickie Aiken, Westminster’s lead member for children’s services, told CYP Now that her authority is petitioning government to expand the payment-by-results criteria for the troubled families scheme, so that local authorities can claim funding for tackling issues such as mental health and domestic abuse.

“The national troubled families initiative runs out in 2015, and at that point we don’t want to risk losing the momentum of what we’ve achieved,” she said.

“We would like the troubled families programme criteria to be expanded to enable progress in other aspects of a troubled family’s life – for example, improvement in mental health issues, a reduction in domestic abuse and an increased take-up of education, employment or training among these families, all of which stand to save significant money from the public purse.”

Aiken added that the authority is keen to work with central government “to ensure a sustainable future for this important work with families”.

She argued that government must provide councils with more support, plus incentives for local authorities to secure investment in troubled families work at a local level, beyond 2015.

Meanwhile Aiken said more must be done to allow councils to address unemployment in troubled families.

“We would also welcome a new relationship between the Department of Work and Pensions and councils to help bring troubled families closer to a point where they can realistically start exploring work and training opportunities,” she said.

The Department for Communities and Local Government has been contacted for comment.

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