Success in helping troubled families get their lives back on track
Published: Tuesday 10th September 13
The council’s concerted efforts to help troubled families turn their lives around quickly has been hailed as the best in London according to official Government figures published today (Tuesday).
Just under 68 per cent of troubled families that the council is focusing its efforts on have successfully turned their lives around within one year. This is the highest ranked score in the capital.
Overall the council's work in helping troubled families get their lives back on track since the project began has been hailed as the second best in London, with only leafy Richmond-upon-Thames achieving a higher rating.
And the council has also seen significant success with the borough's hardest-to-reach families whose difficulties are the most ingrained and deep-seated through its innovative Family Recovery Project.
In total, since the Government's flagship initiative was launched two years ago, 180 troubled families in Wandsworth have seen their lives put back on track, out of a total of 660 who are living in the borough.
Troubled families are defined as those whose lives may be affected by any number of social problems including drink and/or drug addiction, domestic violence, educational underachievement, worklessness, poverty, child neglect, truancy, persistent criminality and anti-social behaviour.
Each individual family whose lives are successfully turned around represents a potential saving to taxpayers of around £29,000 a year.
This saving to the public purse comes from reductions in crime and anti-social behaviour, a fall in the number of children that need to be taken into care, fewer visits to A&E, fewer interventions from the police and the courts and by getting adults off benefits and back into work.
Earlier this year Wandsworth's Family Recovery Project was hailed as a model for other authorities to follow during a visit to the borough by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander and Communities Secretary Eric Pickles.
The Wandsworth programme works by assigning a dedicated worker to engage with a whole family on all of its problems, such as ensuring that the children attend school, appointments are met and appropriate services are accessed. Crucially, all of the public services involved with members of a family are coordinated and the demand on them reduced.
This allows different agencies to work together in a much more co-ordinated way to tackle the root cause of problems rather than just the symptoms.
Wandsworth's success was today praised by Prime Minister David Cameron who said: "I am determined that we help people to get on in life including those families where things may be going wrong. For some, that starts with attending school every day, staying out of trouble with the police and taking practical steps towards work, just as other families do.
"Every month, more and more of the most troubled families are getting help to deal with these issues head-on in Wandsworth That is good for those families, your community and our country as a whole."
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said: "These figures show that our no-nonsense and common sense approach is changing these families for the better and benefiting the whole community in Wandsworth.
"Considering the often longstanding and deep-seated nature of these families' problems, it is a huge achievement to have turned so many around in such a short space of time. And instead of several costly services working with the same family but failing to solve the underlying problems, this approach is both more effective for the family and cheaper too."
And Louise Casey, who heads the Government's troubled families programme added: Wandsworth Council deserves credit for taking up the challenge of the Troubled Families programme and achieving results so quickly.
"By dealing with all the family members and all of their problems in a tough and intensive way we are finally getting to grips with problems which may have persisted for generations, giving hope to people who have often been failed in the past and relief for the communities that suffered the effects of their behaviour."
Wandsworth Council leader Ravi Govindia said: "Working with families in these difficult situations and helping them change their behaviour and improve not only their lives and the lives of their children, but also those of their neighbours and the wider community is a key priority for the council.
"Our work to break the inter-generational cycle of drink and drug abuse, criminality, anti-social behaviour and benefit dependency will help transform lives and nip problems in the bud for future generations before serious social problems can develop."