Using money from the budgets of the Department for Communities and Local Government, the Department for Work and Pensions and the Department for Education, the Government is attempting to tackle the 120,000 families they say cost the country £9 billion per year. At an average of £75,000 a year per family, this is a huge drain on the public finances.
The solution is a cross-departmental troubleshooting programme that will see 152 English councils incentivised to be proactive in tackling behaviour in the troublesome families identified. Almost £450m will be contributed to this programme, constituting 40% of the total costs, with councils shouldering the lion’s share. Extra cash will be available for successful councils, measured in reductions in truancy rates, anti-social behaviour and benefit dependency.
The 120,000 families were identified as being ‘troubled’ during last summer’s rioting against 7 criteria. Any family meeting five of these criteria, which include addiction, joblessness and overcrowding, makes the list.
The original information, however, came from a 2004 survey, which identified families with ‘multiple disadvantages’ in a study unrelated to crime. A survey of 80 councils revealed that only 5% of them believed there was a correlation between the 120,000 identified families and those responsible for the disturbances, leading to widespread criticism of, what they are saying, is the Government’s labelling of these families as potential criminals.
The scheme will be spread over four years and will constitute a substantial part of the Government’s plans to tackle ‘broken Britain’. With just over £40 a week available for these families, assuming the already cash strapped councils contribute the necessary amounts to maximise the Government’s contributions, it is yet to be seen whether the new funds will be enough to make a real difference to Britain’s most deprived families.