SUNDERLAND’S much-trumpeted bid to transform the lives of more than 800 troubled families has resulted in just three people finding full-time work.
The Government claims youth crime levels are down and truanting children are back in school thanks to the “troubled families” programme, which aims to support some of the city’s most hard to reach.
When announced last year, the scheme planned to work with 805 Wearside families in need of help.
As of October this year – halfway through the project – just 104 families had successfully been “turned around”.
Despite one of the primary aims to get more parents into full-time work, just three people have found employment.
Now, the National Audit Office has expressed concerns that the scheme is under performing at a national level after it was launched quickly following the 2011 riots.
Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office, said: “These innovative and ambitious programmes are beginning to provide some benefits but elements are under performing.
“This is the result of poor coordination between the departments when designing and implementing their programmes; and of the risks taken in launching the programmes quickly.
“To achieve value for money, the departments must do more to understand how local authorities and providers react to the incentives in payment-by-results arrangements.
“To achieve their objectives, the departments need to continue to liaise with one another and monitor the success rate, adjusting them when necessary.
“They must continue to work with local authorities and contractors to understand why performance is so varied, intervene if it does not improve, and quickly build an evidence base to show which interventions work best.”
The programme aims to help families with multiple challenges such as unemployment, antisocial behaviour and truancy.
Coun Pat Smith, from Children’s Services at Sunderland City Council, said: “We have been working with a number of families over the last 18 months to offer them additional help and support.
“This builds on established partnership working already in place to deliver intensive services to support those families with the most complex of needs.
“The agenda is challenging, requiring the council and its partners to work differently, developing new relationships with families across Sunderland to get children back into school, family members into work and to stop crime and anti-social behaviour.
“But we know from experience that by working intensively with families with complex needs to address the root causes of their problems rather than just reacting to them, real results can be delivered, helping families to make positive changes and turn their lives around.”