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Councils fail to record successes in tackling problem families
6:00am Tuesday 5th March 2013 in News
FLAGSHIP plans to tame “neighbours from hell” have yet to record a single success in most of the region, it was revealed yesterday.
The government has not handed over any cash - under a ‘payment-by-results’ system, introduced almost one year ago – to eight of 12 councils.
It means those council chiefs have failed to prove they have ‘turned around’ the life of any of the estimated 7,335 “troubled families” in the North-East and North Yorkshire.
To earn the cash, they must either; cut truanting, cut youth crime and antisocial behaviour, get adults looking for work, or cut the costs of tackling the problems caused.
Darlington Borough Council is among the eight councils yet to record a success, but a spokesman insisted: “We have not failed to tackle problem families in Darlington.
“We are currently working with 64 families that meet the set criteria and a further 20 families are under consideration.
"This means that we are on target to meet the target figure of 275 families over three years. We have not yet submitted a claim under the scheme, but do intend to do so in July.”
The official figures, up to the end of December, revealed that Newcastle had earned the most payments (132), followed by County Durham (69), Middlesbrough (39) and Stockton-on-Tees (13).
Two years ago – in the wake of that summer’s riots - David Cameron vowed to turn around the lives of 120,000 problem families by 2015.
The prime minister pledged to introduce “trouble-shooters” in every community, to work with families without work, money or qualifications, living in poor housing, or in ill-health.
Yesterday, the region’s councils could point to some progress, having identified a total of 4,276 of those families - and having started work with 1,556 of them.
But the failure to change the lives of the vast majority of families throws huge doubt on Mr Cameron’s vow of dramatic progress within two years.
Rhian Beynon, of the charity Family Action, said only one fifth of troubled families were currently receiving any attention.
And she warned programme would have to be extended if the government was to have “any chance of reaching their goal”.
Councils can be paid up to £4,000 for each family they help. In the first year of the scheme, 80 per cent - or £3,200 – is paid upfront, reducing to 40 per cent in 2014-15.
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