Troubled families bid ‘must improve’

Blackpool Town Hall
Blackpool Town Hall
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Government programmes set up to help some of England’s most troubled families are underperforming because of “poor co-ordination” between departments, a National Audit Office report has said.

A Department for Communities scheme is costing £448m, while the Department for Work and Pensions is spending £200m.

The NAO said the work was impacting on truancy, unemployment and anti-social behaviour, but urged improvement.

The Department for Communities programme has done work in Blackpool, where more than 200 families have had their lives “turned around” at the half way stage of the three year scheme.

The Government has estimated that the cost to the taxpayer of troubled families is about £9bn annually, taking into account spending on areas including mental health and drug help, social care and crime.

The DCLG programme is seeking to “turn around” the lives of 120,000 families between 2012 and 2015 and local authorities have been using government funding to help them.

The DWP is aiming to find employment for 22 per cent of individuals in its scheme, which began in 2011 and is set to run until 2015, with contractors working to place people in jobs.

The NAO’s report said “key aspects of performance need to improve if the ambitious targets set by the two departments responsible for the programmes are to be met”.

And NAO head Amyas Morse warned “elements of both schemes are underperforming”.

“This is the result of poor co-ordination between the departments when designing and implementing their programmes and of the risks taken in launching the programmes quickly,” he said.

The NAO report also highlighted large variations in performance among the different local authorities and providers.

Last week, at the half-way stage its scheme, the DCLG announced that local authorities had helped 22,000 families, exceeding a three per cent target.

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