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Family scheme’s success pays for other initiatives

A pioneering scheme helping troubled families improve their lives is changing lives, a report says.

And not only does the project’s success save taxpayers’ money, because of the efficient way it is run the income from the Government’s payment by results is being invested in new community schemes.

The Building Resilient Families & Communities scheme initially targeted families to get the parents back in work, or the children in school and to reduce involvement in criminal and anti-social behaviour, before expanding to deal with a wider range of problems such as domestic violence, debt, health and where children are at risk of being taken into care.

Mark Sutton, Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet member for Children and Young People, said one of the reasons for the scheme’s success is that it targets the whole family, rather than individual members.

He said:

Some large families have up to 20 different people visiting because they have many children and complex needs. Not only is that fragmented, but it’s expensive too.

We’re using a single key worker to liaise with all the agencies and develop a co-ordinated approach which is more effective.”

A report to be considered by Staffordshire County Council’s cross-party Corporate Review Committee in October says so far the scheme has helped, or is in the process of helping, more than 3,500 families with an overall recidivism rate of five per cent.

The project is entirely funded by the Government, with part of the money paid in advance and the remainder by results.

The council-led initiative is a joint approach with Staffordshire Police, district and borough councils, housing associations, voluntary groups and health bodies and the report says because that cooperation reduces the scheme’s running costs, the ‘payment-by-results’ money is being used to run early intervention and prevention schemes in different communities across the county.

Mark Sutton said:

This project is making a difference to the lives of people who are finding work, coming off drugs and going to school; it means less anti-social behaviour for their neighbours to deal with and it saves public bodies an estimated £12,000 per family.

We’re incorporating the lessons from this project into the county council’s way of working, so when the scheme eventually ends we will still have the benefits.”

The Corporate Review Committee will discuss the report on October 4th.