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National fund for problem families

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Several government departments are investigating the creation of a nationally pooled budget to help fund councils’ early intervention work with problem families, LGC has learned.

Children’s minister Tim Loughton said he was working towards a “completely integrated early intervention strategy” that would make it easier to bring together health, benefits, police, justice and children’s services funding.

Speaking exclusively to LGC, Mr Loughton said he hoped the results, which could be included in the spending review later this month, would pave the way for the wider adoption of local measures, following the report of MP Graham Allen’s (Lab) independent commission on the issue.

“We want to create an environment for people to come forward with innovative and effective solutions.

“If they can show that it works, they’ll find an open door,” he said.

Mr Loughton, left, said the Home Office, the Department for Work & Pensions, the Ministry of Justice and the Department for Work and Pensions were among the departments expected to be involved.

Westminster City Council this week said its Family Recovery Programme, which takes a multi-agency approach to problematic families, had saved £2m in the past 12 months.

But in its spending review submission, the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) has called for the government to ring-fence such funding for the next two years to avoid service cuts in other areas.

ADCS vice president Matt Dunkley said preparations for the roll-out of early intervention work following the Allen Review should be welcomed, but said the level of funding was as important as the removal of barriers.

“The idea of pooling resources across services to help us is good, but the resources need to be there to pool,” he said.

The Centre for Excellence and Outcomes in Children and Young People’s Services published the results of its survey of early intervention projects across the country.

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