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Government reaches target of helping 120,000 troubled families

The government claims to have reached its target of starting to help 120,000 troubled families nine months earlier than originally planned.

Doubts had previously been raised by the National Audit Office and public accounts committee that central and local government would be able to identify as many as 120,000 families in need of help. between April 2012 and May 2015, but local authority figures released on Tuesday suggest 117,910 families have entered the government Troubled Families programme.

These families are said to be facing multiple problems and costing the taxpayer £9bn annually. Their problems include high levels of truancy, youth crime, antisocial behaviour and worklessness and the aim of the programme is turn their lives round in three years.

Communities secretary Eric Pickles said more than 69,000 families have already met the conditions for payment-by-results by turning their lives around.

Families are judged to have met these conditions if a child is returns to school where they had previously been persistently absent, if levels of youth crime and antisocial behaviour from the family have been significantly reduced, or if an adult in the home has left off benefits and entered work for three consecutive months or more.

As recently as April this year the Public Accounts Committee expressed doubts that the Troubled Families unit would meet its targets, saying that it was falling behind its timetable.

Louise Casey, head of the Troubled Families programme, said:

“This programme is working so effectively because it deals with the whole family and all of their problems, with one key worker going in through the front door and getting to grips with an average of nine different problems, rather than a series of services failing to engage or get the family to change.

“It is a fantastic achievement to have built up Troubled Families teams so quickly, so that 117,000 families are now being worked with and 69,000 have already been turned around.”

Local authorities are paid up to £4,000 on a payment-by-results basis for turning around troubled families. The government’s £448m three-year budget for 2012 to 2015 is drawn from 6 Whitehall departments who all stand to benefit from the public sector working more effectively with troubled families.