September 30 2014 Latest news:
Annabelle Dickson, Political editor
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Norfolk has a long way to go in helping turn around the lives of its “troubled” families, a top Whitehall official has said after the county was left off a list of high-performing authorities where a pioneering initiative is being extended.
Louise Casey, who visited Norfolk in April, said that she had been worried about Norfolk’s progress on the flagship “Troubled Families” scheme, with the latest figures showing that just 337 of the 1,700 families identified in the area had been “turned around”, and just five had met the government’s criteria for payment by results.
In Suffolk, which has also been missed off a list of high-performing areas, 255 of its 1,150 troubled families have been helped to the required standard.
Ms Casey, who was Tony Blair’s “respect tsar” under the last Labour government, and was appointed by prime minister David Cameron to lead the Troubled Families programme, said: “Norfolk has a very significant number of problem families.
“It is one of the areas that I think has struggled to get on top of the programme, but it is making progress now, and as of today they are working with 100pc of the 1,700 families.”
She praised it work with housing associations and for re-opening a family interventions project, but said that the county was “far from out of the woods”.
She said there were plenty of other “shire counties” getting to grips with the scheme, including Surrey, Devon, Lancashire, Durham, Cumbria and Northumberland. But she added the Norfolk had made “extraordinary progress” over the last six months.
“I think the thing that is so important is that we need to make sure we help these families so their kids don’t grow up in circumstances where there is crime and domestic violence,” she said. “I don’t think any family is beyond hope or help. Some of the families we have been working with on the programme, the strides have been enormous. Even if they are not perfect by everybody else’s standards – the fact they have got kids back in school, crime is reduced significantly... an incredible achievement given some the things that these families have had to struggle with in their own past.”
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