Westminster is awarded funding to help disadvantaged families

22 MAY 2008

Westminster City Council has been awarded almost £800,000 to offer intensive support and help to disadvantaged families in the heart of the capital.

Westminster is one of 15 areas across the country that has been chosen by the government to lead the way in testing and developing a ground-breaking 'think family' approach to help their most vulnerable families.

With the issue of youth crime and family breakdown high up the political agenda, this scheme aims to intervene at the earliest possible stage to help prevent any problems escalating.

The latest statistics show that around 600 families in Westminster suffer from chronic, multiple and complex difficulties which require intensive interventions from a range of statutory and voluntary agencies.

Some families cost the tax payer more than £100,000 a year. By intervening early, the council aims to reduce the families' dependency on these high cost services.

Cllr Sarah Richardson, Cabinet Member for Children's Services, said: A very small percentage of families place a huge burden on the public purse and by intervening early not only can we help tackle the causes of family breakdown, we can prevent families descending into a downward spiral.

"The council's aim is to keep families together and this joined-up approach aims to be successful in meeting the needs of both children and parents to improve their lives, which will also benefit the wider community."

Over the next three years, the council will receive £780,000 to fund three new Family Assessment & Intervention Teams as part of a national £16 million 'Family Pathfinder' programme.

These teams will manage a caseload of the most at risk families across the city, operating at different levels of intervention and support according to each family's needs.

These families suffer a range of entrenched problems which result in poor outcomes for the children, parents and often impact on their neighbourhoods as well.

Westminster aims to have the three Family Assessment & Intervention Teams set up by early 2009.

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