In a speech to the Local Government Association yesterday, the Communities Secretary Eric Pickles spoke of the Government's determination to turn round the lives of the 120,000 most troubled families. At present they are constantly interviewed by different agencies at vast cost to the taxpayer without anything being achieved. While they make up less than 1% of the population they are costing the economy over £8 billion a year.
Whitehall bureaucracy that stops agencies workiing together will be lifted.
Local government will take the lead but they will be obliged to get on with it.
Eric said in his speech:
You need to know:
- Who are your families?
- What do they cost?
- What are your interventions?
- What is working?
You won't get off a first base if you don't know this.
You've got to dare to share.
That's what they say in Salford. Where you've got the doctors, the dentists, the social workers, the Job Centres, the police all agreeing to share key information.
This is a massive, crucial culture change – sharing data automatically. And it's got to be driven from the top.
And don't moan to me that people won't co-operate, just do it. Don't say there are bureaucratic obstacles – we'll remove them.
For too long everyone from the police to the social workers to health care professionals have worked in isolation.
Up to twenty local agencies are involved with the same family – costing local services up to £330,000 per family every year.
It's expensive. It's ineffective. Agencies overlap and pull in different directions. Families get pushed from pillar to post and feel like no one's on their side.
It's a bad deal all round.
In contrast one co-ordinated and integrated intervention that's better for families – can cost around £14,000. Meaning yearly costs plummet by around £70,000 for each family.
The message here is simple: stop throwing money away and get coordinated.