Lambeth turns around every one of its troubled families
More than a thousand “troubled families” have been put back on track with the help of a special Lambeth Council team set up to tackle unemployment, crime and social problems across the borough.
The national Troubled Families initiative, targeting 120,000 households across England “that have problems and cause problems to the community around them”, was launched in 2011. The scheme, which also targets households with children who truant or who are excluded from school, identified 1,080 Lambeth families that needed to be turned around by the end of May this year.
But the Aspirational Lambeth Families team has hit the target ahead of schedule. Lambeth is one of only a handful of London councils to achieve the milestone so early. Official figures released by the Department for Communities and Local Government last summer showed Lambeth’s performance was 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 team’s 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 unit’s performance has led to Lambeth being chosen as one of 51 councils which will enter the second phase of the national programme ahead of the rest of the country. The team will now work with a further 551 families, helping them overcome critical problems that affect their households – and often the rest of their community.
Members of the Aspirational Lambeth Families partnership are assigned to individual families and work with them to make improvements across a range of problems – including school attendance and achievement, anti-social behaviour and unemployment. The team includes two full time employment advisers seconded from JobCentre Plus.
Staff also address wider health issues, family dynamics, domestic violence, debts and other complexities. The team aims to support families to build resilience, confidence and empower them to sustain the improvements they have made.
Jane Pickard, acting cabinet member for children, young people and families, said: “We have seized the opportunities presented by the Troubled Families initiative to support those who need extra help to escape from some of the most complex problems.
“Intervening with parents and children to prevent problems happening in the first place is the key to how we approach all our services for children and young people. The Troubled Families programme is enabling us to expand that work. The end result is a transformation for the families themselves, a saving for taxpayers on a range of services from health to prisons, and a benefit to communities who see a fall in crime and anti-social behaviour.
“Helping parents back into work, and their children back into school, and moving them away from crime, benefits everyone in Lambeth.
“Lambeth’s outstanding performance on this programme is a testament to our staff, who have worked so hard to reach out to people and help them make the changes to get back on track.”
Officials estimate that the cost to public services of dealing with some families’ problems is an average of £75,000 per year. The scheme offers councils £4,000 for each family if they meet 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.
Case studies are available on request