Troubleshooters to Target 120,000 Problem Families

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Byline: Daniel Martin Whitehall Correspondent

DAVID Cameron yesterday launched a multi-million pound assault on the 'Shameless generation' which took much of the blame for last summer's riots.

The Prime Minister announced plans for squads of 'troubleshooters' to tackle Britain's 120,000 problem families and help turn round their lives.

Almost half a billion pounds will be spent alleviating problems caused by the country's worst-behaving families, who cost taxpayers [pounds sterling]9billion a year - or [pounds sterling]75,000 each.

The idea is for one person to be responsible for problem families' care, rather than the 20 or so separate agencies who currently visit their homes to offer support. But it emerged yesterday that the 'troubleshooters' will not actually visit the homes of most problem families - they will merely co-ordinate care from council offices.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles admitted that only a proportion would actually receive visits from new 'family workers' - leaving the rest dealing with the agencies they have already dealt with. Troubleshooters would work from council offices.

He said: 'This troubleshooter is not somebody who is going to take on these families, this troubleshooter is somebody who is going to ensure that the 20 or so state agencies that visit these families on your behalf and my behalf every year co-ordinate their activities.'

In a major speech yesterday, Mr Cameron pledged to reform the system that means a 'string of well-meaning, disconnected officials' treat the 'symptoms and not the causes' in difficult families. Instead, there will be a 'clear hard-headed recognition' of where families are going wrong.

By February, local authorities must identify who the troubled families are in their area and what services they use.

Councils will have to put up 60 per cent of the cash needed to help them and the Government will stump up the remaining 40 per cent, Mr Cameron said. …