Targets to tackle problem families in South Yorkshire

Generic image of anti-social neighbours, nightmare neighbours, living in fear, disruptive, anti-social behaviour, street drinking, louts, yobs

Generic image of anti-social neighbours, nightmare neighbours, living in fear, disruptive, anti-social behaviour, street drinking, louts, yobs

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TARGETS have been set for South Yorkshire councils telling them how use the £13 million allocated to tackle problem families over the next three years.

Families requiring support are those which have a combination of:

■ Adults on out of work benefits.

■ One or more children with a proven criminal offence or involvement in anti-social behaviour.

■ Children who have been subject to permanent school exclusion, three or more suspensions, children in pupil referral units or youngsters who have been absent without authorisation for at least 15 per cent of a school year.

Youngsters in each family must achieve 85 per cent attendance in schools and less than three suspensions each year, a 60 per cent reduction in incidents of anti-social behaviour involving each family and a 33 per cent reduction in reported youth offending.

Reaching the targets will lead to a £3,900 payment per family.

Meanwhile, a further payment of up to £4,000 will be made to councils each time one adult comes off benefits and into ‘continuous work’.

The Government says an ‘average family intervention’ will cost £10,000.

Councils are also being asked to continue using their existing funding to help problem families.

In Sheffield, £5.6 million is being allocated to the Children and Young People’s 0-19 Partnership Board, to cover 80 per cent of the cost of helping the 1,680 families that the Government believes need assistance.

But the Sheffield board believes the problem is much worse, with as many as 2,700 families needing help.

The funding was welcomed by Winnie Smith, of Arbourthorne Tenants’ and Residents’ Association.

She said: “Work needs to be targeted at the parents. I feel so sorry for some of the kids who are just left to their own devices and not made to go to school which is the most important thing.

“If this initiative works, it has to be a good thing.

“But I am concerned about other things - there has been a decrease in patrols by neighbourhood wardens and Police Community Support Officers.

“There should be no let-up in making sure neighbourhoods are safe.”

A report by the board said: “We are already querying existing council and police databases to generate a working list of families.

“This work overlaps closely with other programmes designed to support families and individuals with complex needs.”

But Coun Colin Ross, Sheffield Council Lib Dem shadow cabinet member for children, young people and families, welcomed the funding.

He said: “I am very supportive of this initiative which will make a real difference to help neighbourhoods around Sheffield.

“As it is payment by results, I would call on the council to make sure that it makes sure all families are targeted, not the easiest cases first.”