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Bromford Support welcomes troubled families programme in principal but questions the detail

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The government is claiming that 120,000 families cost the taxpayer £9bn a year and are the source of anti-social behaviour and crime. David Cameron has said that "some in the press might call them 'neighbours from hell'" and Eric Pickles claims that these families are "troubling themselves [and] they're troubling their neighbourhoods."

At Bromford Support, our experience is that far from using up lots of expensive public service, troubled families have often been let down by public services and are now distrustful of them.

John Wade, Bromford Support managing director said: "We support around 9,000 vulnerable people a year. Our experience is that they often have lots of issues to deal with - poverty, child abuse, failed education, mental health needs, homelessness, debt and so on but that it is far more likely that they are the ones who will be living with the consequences of these factors and suffer in silence."

Bromford supports any new money that helps join services up, eliminate waste and focus on delivering lasting valued outcomes for people but is also concerned as the money will be paid out based on performance indicators that bear little relation to the seven criteria used to identify the 120,000 families.

The 120,000 figure comes from research done in 2004 as part of the Family and Children survey. Two per cent of families surveyed were found to have five or more of a list of characteristics and so were deemed to be 'multiply disadvantaged', ie, no parent in the family in work; family living in overcrowded housing; no parent with any qualifications; mother with mental health problems; at least one parent with a long-standing limiting illness, disability or infirmity; family has low income (below 60% of median income) or family cannot afford a number of food or clothing items.

Through the work of Bromford Support, our work clubs and the new Bromford Deal, we are listening to our customers to find out where they want to be with their lives and helping to develop their existing skills and build their confidence and self-esteem. We want to help our customers become as independent, self-reliant and economically active as possible - we share many of the government's aspirations - but we believe the right way is to work with vulnerable people, i.e., 'troubled families', and build on what they can do, find out where they want to be as individuals and families and listen to what they see and feel to be obstacles and work together to help them achieve their own goals and aspirations.