Localism means that different councils will respond differently to the Troubled Families Initiative. Their financial rewards are for succeeding – how they succeed is their business.
Under the Troubled Families programme, the Department for Communities and Local Government will pay upper-tier local authorities up to £4,000 per eligible family on a payment-by-results basis, if they reduce truancy, youth crime and anti-social behaviour or put parents back into work. Turning a family around means achieving more than 85 per cent attendance and fewer than three exclusions from school for children; a 60 per cent reduction in anti-social behaviour across the whole family, a 33 per cent reduction in youth offending; and progress towards work for adults, such as training, or one adult in the family moving off benefits and into work.
Those who fail to deliver will not get extra money.
The response of Conservative-run South Gloucestershire Council is to advertise in The Guardian for a Troubled Families Initiative Coordinator on a salary of £39,855-£43,393. Groan.
While the Government isn't telling councils what to do it has published a report this morning by Louise Casey which looks at some of the characteristics of troubled families.
Many family members recounted episodes in care or experiences of child protection assessments or social care services, often as children and then with regard to their own children. The vast majority continued to have contact with the parents they were removed from whilst in care and afterwards as adults, and many of the girls begin having children as teenagers, often whilst still in care.
Many have large families and keep having children, often with different fathers, even if they are struggling to cope with the children they already have.
The report says that many of the families themselves say that they need "a wake up call" in order to change their behaviour. The trouble is the false kindness of delay. There is delay in evicting families engaged in anti social behaviour. Or in excluding a disruptive child from school. The delay in requiring some activity, rather than something for nothing welfare, is so interminable it can last for years or even decades.
There is a delay in taking children into care even when the child is suffering clear neglect or mistreatment. Then once taken into care there is a delay in placing that child for adoption – instead, it is shuffled back and forth to its troubled family and assorted foster carers.
My top tip to South Gloucestershire Council is to stop fiddling round with coordinators and pay fees for boarding schools instead for children in care and "on the edge of care." That would save them money even without this extra £4,000 a family offered by Eric Pickles.