The massive extension of the Troubled Families programme is excellent news. Hitherto the target has been to turn around 120,00 families but this has been increased by another 400,000. An extra £200 million will be spent on this payments by results scheme. But talk of "spending" in this context is misleading. These are families that if they are not truned round cost the taxpayer an average of £75,000 a year – not just for welfare but the army of public sector operatives visiting them.
The money is paid out to local authorities by the Department for Communities and Local Government, but is funded from across Whitehall. The Department for Work and Pensions are concerned that the families get off welfare, the Justice Department that they cease being involved in crime….
The idea is a single dedicated worker helping the family. It is what is known as "joined up Government." But there is great scope for local innovation.
Crucially, all of the public services involved with members of a family are coordinated and the demand on them reduced.
Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles said:
"The groundbreaking Troubled Families programme being run by local authorities is on track to turn around the lives of 120,000 families by 2015 and reduce the burden they put on the taxpayer for the long term. It does so by taking a no-nonsense approach with families and a common sense approach to changing the way services are run.
"I am delighted that we will be able to continue the progress we have begun after 2015."
It all sounds very worthy. But it is actually a tough policy. It is about reducing the delay of false kindness in imposing consequences for bad behaviour and making clear those consequences in plain language.