Hundreds of “troubled families” have had their lives turned around with the help of a new team at Lambeth Council, new figures have revealed.
The Aspirational Lambeth Families Team has helped more than 650 families deal with problems including unemployment, truanting, crime and anti-social behaviour, over the last two years. Lambeth’s performance so far is the best in London on things like getting adults back into work and improving school attendance – and among the best of more than 150 local authorities taking part in the Troubled Families programme across the country.
The success will also earn Lambeth more Government money, on a payment by result basis, to spend on other vital services to support families with the most complex needs.
The National Troubled Families initiative, targeting 120,000 households across England “that have problems and cause problems to the community around them”, which include households which are involved in youth crime or antisocial behaviour, or have children who are excluded from school or truant , was launched by the Prime Minister in 2011. Some 1,080 families that could benefit from the support provided under the scheme had been identified in Lambeth and need to be turned around by the end of May 2015.
Figures published by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) show that Lambeth’s Aspirational Families partnership has now “turned around” 652 households – more than any other London borough across most indicators. More than two-thirds of the troubled families identified in Lambeth at the start of the process have now been put back on track.
Lambeth’s team is also ranked first in London for the number of families it has helped to make progress in the key areas of crime, anti-social behaviour and education. The figures also show that adults in 180 families have moved into steady employment– the second-best performance in the whole of England.
Councillor Rachel Heywood, Lambeth Cabinet Member for Early Years, Youth and Families, said: “These figures are a tribute to our fantastic staff across the Council and the Council’s partners, who have worked round the clock to help families who have in the past turned down support.
“The team has been incredibly successful in helping people deal with problems including crime and unemployment. Getting children back into school, and parents into work, are vital steps in getting families back on track.
“Changing the behaviour of these families also benefits other people in Lambeth – and it earns extra money to spend on front-line services.”
Members of Aspirational Lambeth Families partnership have been assigned to individual families and worked with the whole family to make improvements across a range of problems – including school attendance and achievement, anti-social behaviour and unemployment, as well as tackling wider health issues, family dynamics, domestic violence, debts and other complexities. They support families to build resilience, confidence and empower them sustain improvements.
One mother on the programme said:
“She [Staff member] doesn’t leave me alone and doesn’t give up! If I don’t answer my phone she will turn up at my house.
“I didn’t like her at first as she works for Lambeth and used to think they are all the same, but now I see that she is just trying to help.
“She has helped me and my son a lot. My son’s at school 90% of the time and I am dealing with my alcohol dependency issues and getting work ready”.
Officials estimate that the cost of dealing with some families’ problems is an average of £75,000 per year. The scheme offers councils £4,000 for each family on a payment by result scheme, which meets targets such as children returning to school for three consecutive terms, “significant” reductions in youth crime and anti-social behaviour, and adults getting off benefits and into work for three months or more.
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles last month announced that 52,833 of the most troubled families in England had been put back on track by local authority teams since April 2012.