Problem families face daily visits from officials !

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Problem families face daily visits from officials

By Robert Winnett, Deputy Political Editor

“More than 100,000 problem families face daily visits from Government officials under plans being drawn up in the wake of the summer riots.

The Communities Secretary is expected to set out plans to have single budgets to tackle the problem in more than 50 areas, including those hit by the riots, by the end of this year

Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, will today discuss plans to earmark a budget for each of the country’s problem families – who are currently being targeted by dozens of separate agencies and local authorities.

They will be given help with basic tasks such as getting their children out of bed and ready for school, along with cooking and cleaning.

Mr Pickles is also considering whether private firms may be paid on results if they manage to “turn around” problem families with intensive intervention.

The Communities Secretary was recently charged with leading Government efforts to tackle so-called problem families, which were identified as a key factor behind the recent riots. Louise Casey, Tony Blair’s former respect tsar, will also move to Mr Pickles’ department to head the new unit which will begin work this week.

Mr Pickles will today give a speech to effectively launch the new work. His appointment to lead the problem has surprised some as Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, is a leading expert in the field.

The Communities Secretary is expected to set out plans to have single budgets to tackle the problem in more than 50 areas, including those hit by the riots, by the end of this year.

He will warn that each problem family currently costs up to £250,000 a year for the state in benefits, crime and health costs. Therefore, Mr Pickles will say that by co-ordinating Government action, there is plenty of money for intensive intervention schemes for the families.

It is understood that many of these families will receive daily visits from a specific person or agency who will be charged with turning their lives around. These people will help with day-to-day tasks and will ensure that the children attend schools.

About 50,000 families are also to be given free parenting lessons under Coalition plans designed to make society more responsible.

The classes are being piloted for mothers and fathers with children aged under five in Middlesbrough,HighPeakin Derbyshire, andCamden.

They will be offered £100 vouchers to pay for the sessions, and organisations will bid for contracts to provide them.

Issues covered are likely to include communication, managing conflict, discipline, and creating routine and boundaries.

Sarah Teather, the children’s minister, said the trials would start next summer and run for two years. The scheme will cost £5 million for the vouchers plus set-up costs.

“The overwhelming evidence from all the experts is that a child’s development in the first five years of their life is the single biggest factor influencing their future life chances, health and educational attainment,” Mrs Teather said.

“Armed with all this evidence, it is the Government’s moral and social duty to make sure we support all parents at this critical time.

“Parents have one of the toughest and most important jobs – but unlike so many other areas of our lives, they don’t get a training manual or a how-to guide.”

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