Scheme to help 745 Plymouth families has helped just 20
A FLAGSHIP government project to help up to 745 of Plymouth's most troubled households has so far turned around the lives of just 20, it has emerged.
But ministers insist the intervention scheme aimed at "problem families" remains on track.
The project was unveiled by Prime Minister David Cameron at the end of 2011 as he vowed to "get to grips" with the country's most difficult households.
Within its first year, the Government said Plymouth City Council had identified all 745 of the city's most difficult families in need of help, of which 146 had received "intensive interventions" to tackle truancy, youth crime, anti-social behaviour and unemployment.
In January, the local authority reported it had turned around the lives of 20 families, ensuring children regularly attend school and are not committing crime, and that adults are in work.
None of the 1,270 troublesome households in Cornwall, or 1,370 in Devon, were shown to have been "turned around".
The progress update for the three-year programme came as the Government announced 150 Jobcentre Plus advisers would now work with councils to help get people into jobs.
This would include providing practical support in skills such as CV writing and interview techniques, as well as putting families in contact with local employers.
Troubled households are estimated to cost the taxpayer £75,000 every year in terms of child protection, and dealing with crime and anti-social behaviour.
In Plymouth alone this would land the public purse with a potential bill of nearly £56million.
Across the country there are estimated to be 120,000 chaotic households, costing taxpayers £9billion a year.
Of these, 62,000 families had been identified for assistance, and one in six – 23,000 – were receiving help.
Councils reported they had turned around the lives of a total of 1,675 troubled families.
Hailing the results, Tory Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said: "The Troubled Families programme is on track, changing families for the better and reducing their impact on the communities around them.
"This programme is getting to grips with some of the hardest to help families in the country and in doing so will help bring down the costs they incur to the taxpayer and the damage they do to communities.
"But by including a real push towards employment for troubled families we will also help give a sense of purpose and aspiration to people who for too long have been allowed to fail by the state."
Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith added: "There are thousands of individuals and families in the UK living troubled lives blighted by crime, worklessness, and truancy. Helping them get and keep a job can be vital in turning their lives around."