HUNDREDS of problem families in Southampton are now “on the straight and narrow” thanks to Government help, David Cameron says.
The Prime Minister has hailed the city as among the biggest success stories from the flagship ‘troubled families’ scheme.
Launched in 2011 – in the wake of that summer’s riots – the programme aims to turn around the lives of 120,000 so-called ‘neighbours from hell’ by 2015.
Dedicated caseworkers work intensively with the poor and low-skilled, often people in poor quality housing, or with mental health problems.
Now new figures show 404 successful outcomes in Southampton, from a total of 685 families which have been provided with help.
Mr Cameron said: “The results have been truly encouraging. Their children are back in school, parents are back in work, or their antisocial behaviour has been significantly reduced.
“In Southampton, the lives of 404 families have been transformed – one of the biggest turnarounds in England.
“That is good news for taxpayers, who have had to spend around £75,000 every year on each troubled family.
“It’s good news for the neighbours living on estates plagued by these problems. And it’s good news for the families themselves, who are finally being given a chance to play their part in society.”
The scheme also aimed to “turn around” families in the region by finding someone permanent work through the initiative.
In Southampton, 14 of the 404 families helped have members in continuous jobs – which means that the rest have achieved progress on truancy, or on anti-social behaviour.
In Hampshire 52 of 388 have been “turned around” (families in work) but there are none among the 32 helped on the Isle of Wight.
Councils are paid up to £4,000 for each family they help. At the start, 80 per cent – or £3,200 – was paid up front, reducing to 40 per cent in 2014-15.
Earlier this month, the Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) called for local councils failing to help troubled families to face “sanctions”.
And the National Audit Office (NAO) warned that the scheme is “underperforming”, pointing to “poor co-ordination” after it was launched quickly, following the 2011 riots.
But No.10 has insisted that the scheme is “on track” to meet the Prime Minister’s pledge to transform the lives of 120,000 problem families by 2015.