High cost of tackling society’s problems

Blackpool Councils cabinet secretary Coun Graham Cain
Blackpool Councils cabinet secretary Coun Graham Cain

The cost of ‘picking up the pieces’ of damaged lives is costing society £453 per resident in Blackpool, according to a new report.

The resort has the third highest bill of any local authority in England per head of population says the Early Intervention Foundation (EIF).

Our approach to children’s services in Blackpool is specifically tailored around early intervention, as it is proven to be the best way of impacting on children’s life chances

It has analysed figures including the amount spent on children in care, on tackling domestic violence and on benefits for young people who are not in education, employment or training (NEET).

The charity says more early intervention could help reduce the amount being spent on social problems such as neglect, unemployment and youth crime.

Here in Blackpool the £45m Better Start programme is already targeting families with pre-school children in the resort’s poorest areas.

Merle Davies, director of the Centre for Early Child Development in the town, said: “All the public services recognised the only way to break the intergenerational cycle of poor outcomes for our children was to divert funding from late intervention, and support parents in the critical first 1,001 days of a child’s life, from pregnancy through to age three.

“Research has shown that by intervening earlier, and building resilience, children are more likely to be healthier, better educated, and employed in later life and less likely to suffer from addictions, poor relationships and ill health.”

Council chiefs also say early intervention is the priority.

Coun Graham Cain, cabinet secretary, said: “Our approach to children’s services in Blackpool is specifically tailored around early intervention, as it is proven to be the best way of impacting on children’s life chances.

“Problems later in life are more difficult to solve and more expensive to deal with, but still have a detrimental impact on communities that we are trying to end.

“Our troubled families programme has helped hundreds of local families to turn their lives around, in turn reducing the financial strain on health and police services, as well as improving the prospects for both the parents and the children.

“A lot of the social issues we face in Blackpool are grown out of problem families moving or being moved to Blackpool to restart their life.

“That is a very real problem and steps have been taken to stop people with issues being sent to Blackpool.”

Nationally the EIF has calculated society is spending £17bn a year tackling social problems.