After a weekend in which many mainstream media sources reported on the suicide of a Solihull woman who left a note blaming the Government's so-called bedroom tax for her death, our leaders have, surely quite coincidentally, released a statement declaring that more than a quarter of Lancashire’s troubled families are receiving help to turn their lives around.
The press statement from the Department for Communities and Local Government comes as evidence mounts of desperate times for families, the disabled and uneployed, with the ATOS Victim Group logging many suicides, some claimed as the result of government cuts and welfare reforms.
But the department counters this bad news with the information that local councils have already worked with 923 of the 3,610 families in the county identified as being troubled because of youth crime, anti-social behaviour, truancy, or having an adult on out-of-work benefits.
Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles (who's a busy man, what with ripping up planning regulations and attacking council staff pay) said the figures showed that councils are on course to meet the Prime Minister’s target of turning around the lives of 120,000 families by 2015.
Figures from local authorities released by the Department for Communities and Local Government show that by the end of the first year of a three-year payment-by-results programme in March, more than 35,000 troubled families were being worked with across England, up from 22,000 in December 2012.
"The Troubled Families programme is on track to deliver life-changing results for families and communities across the country," says said Pickles.
"Many services have been set up from scratch over the past year so it is remarkable progress to already be reaching a quarter of the families who need help to change.
“Troubled families are often living miserable lives and can also cause misery to the communities around them, draining around £9 billion per year from the public purse.
“This programme is not only transforming the lives of families we have too often not got to grips with in the past, but it will deliver considerable savings to the taxpayer by reducing their demand on services and helping them make a positive contribution to society instead.”
Troubled families are defined as those who are involved in youth crime or anti-social behaviour; have children who are regularly truanting; have an adult on out-of-work benefits; cost the public sector large sums in responding to their problems, an estimated average of £75,000 per year.
The Government is committed to turning around the lives of 120,000 troubled families by 2015: getting children back into school; cutting youth crime and anti-social behaviour across the whole family; putting adults on a path back to work; and cutting the costs to the taxpayer of tackling their problems.
The figures from local authorities on progress within the first year of the Government’s Troubled Families programme in regard to families 'identified' and families being 'worked with' have been collated from the latest quarterly returns submitted to DCLG's Troubled Families Team from all 152 upper tier local authorities in England in March 2013. These do not constitute official statistics.
Last August, the Daily Mail reported
on research from the University of Liverpool suggesting some 846 more
men and 155 extra women took their own lives between 2008 and 2010 than
would have been expected if previous trends had continued.
• Full details of the Government's payment by results framework for troubled families can be found here: www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-troubled-families-programme-financial-framework