Skip to main content

Troubled Families

Volume 539: debated on Monday 30 January 2012

In December, the Prime Minister announced a £448 million programme to turn around the lives of 120,000 troubled families. So far, more than 95% of upper-tier local authorities have engaged with the programme. Local authorities have begun to recruit a local troubled families co-ordinator, and to pull together their own list of local troubled families. We have also been able to offer each area £20,000 to help it to prepare for the programme.

The funding for the troubled families initiative involves councils covering 60% of their costs up front and central Government picking up the tab for the remaining 40%, albeit on a yet-to-be-defined payment-by-results basis. Merrick Cockell, Conservative chairman of the Local Government Association, describes this model as “doomed to failure”. Does the Secretary of State agree with him?

The hon. Lady has, I am sure accidentally, given a partial quote. Sir Merrick is, of course, completely behind our approach, and was laying out a theoretical example that we are not adopting. We do not expect the entire 60% to come from local authorities’ moneys; we expect some of it to come from other agencies, and indications so far suggest that that will be successful.

I listened carefully to the hon. Lady’s questions to the Select Committee, and should she want to be actively involved, let me say that it is my intention that things will be handled on an all-party basis and that she will be most welcome to make a contribution.

Some 55,000 of the 120,000 most-troubled families have children with behavioural problems. How will the work being done to deal with problems such as serial truancy dovetail with other initiatives dealing with parenting and early intervention?

Probably about 65% of those 55,000 cases involve truancy issues, while others involve criminal convictions and special educational needs. The purpose of this initiative is to pull all the various interventions and programmes together so that we can, at last, tackle these issues. I have found from talking to council leaders of all political parties that we all recognise that we must solve these problems, and this is our big chance to work together to do so.