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Government scheme claims to have "turned around" lives of 283 families in Southampton
6:00am Tuesday 3rd December 2013 in News
JUST nine people in 'troubled families' in Southampton have been found work from a much-hyped Government scheme.
The programme has been hailed as a success by Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles, who said the lives of 283 city families had been “turned around”.
But, of those, nine people - 3.2 per cent - are in permanent jobs, the department for communities and local government (DCLG) figures reveal.
Yet a lack of work is one of seven factors on the Government's list that trigger a classification of “troubled”, if a family displays at last five of them.
The others are: poor quality housing, no qualifications, mental health problems, long-standing disability, low income and an inability to afford food or clothing.
Across the county, just 46 of 504 families classed as “turned around” now have someone in work - with four in the Isle of Wight and 33 in the rest of Hampshire.
Now the National Audit Office (NAO) has warned the scheme is “underperforming”, pointing to “poor co-ordination” after it was launched quickly, following the 2011 riots.
Its report, published today, agrees there is “evidence that families are beginning to benefit”, from a scheme expected to cost £1bn over four years.
But it adds: “There is a risk that the expectations for the programmes will not be achieved.
“Evidence from programmes similar to that of the DCLG [department for communities and local government] suggests that local authorities will need to invest further to meet its target.”
Only last week, Mr Pickles said the scheme was “on track”, suggesting the lives of more than 22,000 such families had been “turned around” with intensive help.
He said: “Councils are making great strides in a very short space of time, dealing with families that have often had problems and created serious issues in their communities for generations.”
But the NAO also expressed concern that: * Only 62,000 families were currently in the programme across the country - 13 per cent below the number that “might reasonably” have been found.
* A family can be counted as being “turned around” if it shows improvement in just one area.
* Cash-starved councils are spending only the upfront attachment fee on troubled families - not the further sums earned under 'payment-by-results'.
The programme was launched in 2011 - in the wake of that summer's riots - when David Cameron vowed to turn around the lives of 120,000 problem families by 2015.
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