By Andrew Holt
Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles has published new findings showing the huge savings that can be made for the taxpayer from turning around troubled families.
The Secretary of State for Communities said calculations by some leading local authorities show that councils can save billions of pounds by intervening more effectively in problem households.
A Department for Communities and Local Government report, The cost of troubled families, published today shows:
Barnet Council spending almost £100,000 on average every year on responding to each of its troubled families, compared with costs that can be as little as £10,000 per family for a successful intervention
Solihull Council using 18% of its overall budget on just 3% of its families before it started working on the troubled families
Greater Manchester councils making an overall saving of £224 million from spending £138 million more effectively on their 8,000 troubled families
In West Cheshire, the council estimates that the average family costs around £7,795 to the local authority alone, while the average troubled family costs an estimated £76,190
It is estimated that nationally, the 120,000 troubled families cost the taxpayer £9 billion per year, £8 billion of which is spent purely reacting to their problems and the problems they cause, such as truancy, youth crime and anti-social behaviour.
The government has brought together £448 million from 6 government departments over 3 years to turn around these troubled families by 2015 and to help local authorities work with families in a better and more cost-effective way.
Local authorities will be paid up to £4,000 per family via a payment-by-results scheme if they can tackle these problems and bring down the cost to the public purse.
Speaking at a Local Government Association conference on troubled families, Eric Pickles, said: "The prize here is potentially huge; both in terms of reducing the financial cost on the public purse and the human costs on families and communities.
"The savings we can make for the taxpayer would far outweigh the extra money we are putting in.
"Momentum is building behind this work and we will do much more in 2013. We will start showing the communities around these families that things are changing for the better, with kids back in school, crime coming down and parents sorting out their problems and getting back towards work. And we will do all this in bigger numbers than ever before."
Leader of Solihull Council, Councillor Ken Meeson, added: "I welcome this report and was delighted we were able to contribute to it. It is vitally important that councils get to grips with making an impact with troubled families in their area and tackle the drain they make on public services.
"It is only fair on other families and all Council Tax payers that we bring these costs down and free up vital resources for more effective spending. In Solihull we are doing exactly that."
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