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Family plan faces funding issues

The problem families plan announced yesterday by Prime Minister David Cameron has been criticised for not providing enough funding, as well as too narrow a focus on payment by results.

The 120,000 most troubled families will receive help and support from a team headed by Louise Casey, with £448m funding from Government. However, councils will have to provide 60% of the funding, and will only receive cash if they can prove that their interventions cut truancy, anti-social behaviour or addiction.

The left-leaning Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) think tank questioned whether the Government is defining and measuring the problem in the correct way based on current research and whether this funding should come from savings in other programmes. Additionally, they noted that savings would be accrued in different time periods, and some could not provide clear cashable results.

Matt Cavanagh, associate director at the IPPR, said: “If there is an element of payment by results, is the risk that providers will go for the families who are easiest to turn round, rather than those who are doing the most damage to society.

“There is still a big question-mark over whether the funding will be enough.”

Casey said: “This money should incentivise local authorities, people from health, police, to get a grip of what is happening locally. Part of getting a grip is putting in some money.

“We all need to show commitment and the way you do that is by putting some money on the table, and if you put money on the table, you will get savings.”

Sir Merrick Cockell, chairman of the Local Government Association, welcomed the funding, but warned: “We must ensure this support gets to where it is most needed and is not tied up in endless bureaucracy and form filling.”

Enver Solomon, of the Children’s Society, said that helping troubled families would take a significant amount of time: “Turning around their lives can be a long term process that on the way involves success and failure depending a great deal on accessing good quality specialist support as well as achieving financial security.”

Rhian Beynon, of Family Action, said: “The Government’s system only works if everything is measured, because people only get paid by results. But it’s getting to be an issue. Under this scheme we have four of five things to measure to prove we are making a difference. Evaluation is getting very expensive.”

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