Sunderland’s problem families are back on track, claim Ministers

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MORE than 100 of Sunderland’s most troubled families have got their lives back on track, according to new figures.

Levels of youth crime are down, more children are back in school and some of Wearside’s hardest-to-reach people are getting support, thanks to a Government-led scheme it was claimed today.

The Department for Communities and Local Government say that 18 months into the Troubled Families Programme, 104 of the city’s problem families have been helped.

When announced last year, the Government revealed 805 Wearside families were in need of support, 335 of which are now being worked with. Across Country Durham, 369 families have also been helped.

Nationally, as part of the three-year programme, more than 120,000 families are being worked with.

Councillor Robert Oliver, leader of Sunderland Conservatives, said: “It’s very important that we do what we can to help families that are having the most difficulty and target those who need the most support.

“It can be very difficult to turn around families where there has been worklessness, non-school attendance and social problems for generations.

“It’s very much a long-term programme and, while we welcome the 104 that have been helped, there is still quite a way to go.

“This type of thing requires a change in people’s behaviour which is hard for any Government or council to bring 
about.”

Troubled families are defined as those who are involved in youth crime or antisocial behaviour, have children who are regularly truanting and have an adult on jobless benefits.

Dealing with them costs the taxpayer an estimated average of £75,000 per year. Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said: “I’m delighted that our programme is already helping half of our target of 120,000 troubled families at its midway stage.

“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.

“These results show that these problems can be dealt with through a no nonsense and common sense approach, bringing down costs to the taxpayer at the same time.”

Louise Casey, head of the Troubled Families programme, added: “This programme is getting to grips with families who for too long have been have been allowed to be caught up in a cycle of despair.

“These results show that a tough, intensive but supportive approach has a big impact; giving hope and opportunity to the families and respite to the communities around them.”Chi