When news happens, text BAZ and your photos or videos to 80360. Or contact us by email and phone.
Help for families which cost the taxpayer tens of thousands of pounds
FAMILIES that cost the taxpayer tens of thousands of pounds will be given extra help in a bid to help them and also reduce the cost to the public purse.
Work has started in Basingstoke to give additional support to families who have a history of anti-social or criminal behaviour, have children who regularly skip school, or have an adult on out-of-work benefits.
According to a presentation to councillors on Basingstoke and Deane’s community wellbeing committee, families that fit the criteria can cost the taxpayer up to £75,000 a year.
The new scheme – called the Supporting Troubled Families Programme – is being bankrolled by central Government, and administered by Hampshire County Council.
Gary Westbrook, the strategic lead for the programme in Hampshire, said the Government initiative provides a “unique opportunity to improve the lives of troubled families and communities”.
In Basingstoke and Deane, up to 250 families will be helped over the programme’s three-year plan, with 85 families getting assistance in 2013.
The programme aims to help families by co-ordinating social services support. In Basingstoke, a ‘local co-ordination group’ will ensure different services and charities are working together and this should bring down the costs.
“We are all trying to do more with less,” said Mr Westbrook. “Troubled families cost us a lot of money. Some of these families are highly complex.”
Local councillors have welcomed the plans. Liberal Democrat borough councillor Gavin James, right, said: “I think working closer together will be great – there are families out there with massive and significant problems.”
Earlier this year, Hampshire County Coun-cil agreed to add £900,000 to the programme on top of the Government’s £5.3m.
Cllr Ken Thornber, chairman of the Hampshire Senate, which is a partnership of the county council, local district and borough councils, and key county agencies, also welcomed the initiative.
He said: “By engaging families who need early help to avoid escalating problems, this will help to reduce the need for other agencies to assist at a later date to address more serious problems. This will also mean that we can help avoid significant costs to public funds in the longer term.”