Get families back on track

Gordon Marsden (MP for Blackpool South)
Gordon Marsden (MP for Blackpool South)
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TROUBLED families in Blackpool are to get more help in improving their quality of life.

More than 500 families in Blackpool will get help to put their lives back on track.

Almost £450m is being made available nationally to tackle the country’s most problematic families who cost the taxpayer an estimated £9bn a year, equivalent to £75,000 per family.

Figures from the Department for Communities and Local Government show 515 troubled families live in Blackpool, at a cost to the taxpayer of £3.8m.

Their children are 36 times more likely to be excluded from school and six times more likely to have been in care or to have contact with the police.

Blackpool Council will qualify for up to 40 per cent of the cost of tackling problem families – but only on a payment-by-results basis if it succeeds in implementing measures to get truant children back into school and to reduce criminal and anti-social behaviour.

Measures must also be taken to help get parents back into work. The new programme will also fund a national network of troubleshooters.

Prime Minister David Cameron, who launched the programme, said: “People in troubled families aren’t worthless or pre-programmed to fail. I won’t allow them to be written off. So we must get out there, help them turn their lives around and heal the scars of the broken society.”

But Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden said parachuting in trouble-shooters was not the answer.

He said: “I’m sceptical as to whether parachuting someone in nationally will do a great deal more to address the difficulties which are already being looked at by multi-agency teams.

“In Blackpool this includes the family intervention Springboard project.

“It is also a bit rich coming from a government which slashed all our area based grants which were funding exactly this kind of work.”

Blackpool Council leader Coun Simon Blackburn said: “We all know a small number of individuals soak up a good deal of public money and public time.

“This is nothing new, and Blackpool, under the last Labour council, developed the award-winning Springboard project to tackle the issue.

“I’m very concerned, however, at the Government’s apparent retreat to a Dickensian attitude towards the ‘undeserving poor’, which risks stigmatising families, rather than supporting them.

“Blackpool will, as ever, plough its own progressive furrow, and use every available pound of public money to its maximum possible benefit.”

John Raine, chairman of the Mereside Tenants and Residents Association, said: “I don’t think there is enough for kids to do and that is why they go around committing anti-social behaviour. There needs to be more to hold their interest at school.

“So providing more things like youth clubs which would tackle the reasons why young people are out causing vandalism.”