Improved outcomes for Westminster ‘problem families’

A recovery programme run by Westminster Council for “problem families” is delivering significant improvements in clients’ health, education, housing, and overall behaviour, the authority has said.

The London borough’s multi-agency scheme, which it says is the only one of its kind in the country, is aimed at families linked with crime, disorder, unemployment, and low social, parenting and academic skills.

Anti-social behaviour in decline

A study of 18 families – half of the total the council is working with – showed there has no been no further antisocial behaviour in more than half of them after six months of intensive support, while children’s school attendance increased in 60% of cases.

Almost 40% have resolved debt problems and nearly 70% are now registered and engaging with a GP.

Multi-agency teams

After signing an agreement setting out their responsibilities, each family is assigned a team consisting of social workers, other council staff, police, and professionals from the health and voluntary sectors.

If their behaviour does not improve, parents and young adults face sanctions including eviction from their accommodation, losing benefits, antisocial behaviour orders, or prison.

Council wants to “break cycle of decline”

Brian Connell, lead member for economic development and family policy at Westminster Council, said: “These early findings are extremely encouraging.

“In time we expect to see substantial benefits to the wider community in terms of better behaviour, breaking the cycle of decline and to the taxpayer in terms of releasing resources and reducing spending.”

The council hopes to support 600 families identified as being seriously socially excluded and responsible for disproportionate level of spending on social care, benefits, criminal justice and other services.

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