(Report 15/16-23) (Key decision)
The Cabinet Member for Children and Families introduced the report:
· It was easy to overlook the better bits of children’s services (noting Ofsted’s complimentary comments on early help and intervention on page 24 of the agenda pack) following the recent Ofsted appraisal. There was a wide range of partners involved with the Aspirational Lambeth Families Project, but it had been highly successful with 1080 households turned around during Phase 1.
· This was a local-based approach to working with families; with dedicated workers to dedicated families, hands on, persistent support, and working on the family as a whole with a common purpose. It defined these families by involvement in crime or anti-social behaviour (ASB), truanting, having an adult on out-of-work benefits, or the public cost of responding to their problems. This was achieved by turning around fortunes by providing a path back to work, getting children back to school, cutting youth crime and ASB across the family, and giving young people a chance in life.
· Local authorities were paid on a payment-by-results (PbR) basis, and Lambeth had achieved a 100% turnaround during Phase 1, with Phase 2 commencing in 2015 and ending in 2020.
The report author highlighted the following from the report:
· In addition to the upfront attachment fees of £2,800,000, Lambeth received £1,200,000 back in PbR to re-invest in supporting families with complex needs. This outlined the high achievements against other London and national authorities, as one of the highest performers in the UK, being much greater in Lambeth than across London and England as a whole. This achievement was acknowledged by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) selecting Lambeth to be early starter for Phase 2.
· The Troubled Families Outcome Plan demonstrated sustained and improved outcomes, detailed on page 145 of the agenda pack, as set out by the Aspirational Lambeth Families Implementation framework. This was developed in partnership with the 32 London boroughs via the London-wide Troubled Families Co-ordinators Group.
The Leader of the Council offered her thanks for the enthusiastic and good work of the Aspirational Families team.
Cabinet Members made the following comments:
· The Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods praised the overall quality of work and the leadership network, but noted the reduction in grant for Phase 2 and enquired whether there were assurances of this great work continuing with this added pressure.
· The Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing extended his congratulations on successful partnership working, especially within mental health; asking whether families in Phase 2 were in Phase 1, as the 100% figure seemed incredible.
· The Cabinet Member for Environment and Sustainability commended the work and officers on troubled families, stating that it was vital to intervene at the earliest opportunity to stop history repeating. Finding employment was vital and it was good to see its inclusion. She enquired how councillors might be able to go about putting families into contact to receive help.
· The Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care observed that investment for people at an early stage makes a decisive impact, especially with a whole family approach. Questions over initial high levels of expenditure for commissioning the work and outsourcing among partners were raised.
· The Deputy Leader (Finance and Investment) also praised the work, especially with the London-wide Troubled Families co-ordinating group and asked whether aspects of this body could work as a whole across London or spread over other services.
In response to questions, the report author stated that:
· The reduction in grant between the first and second phases was significant, but much would be recouped through PbR; with the commissioning strategy developed to sustain and enable continued partnership work. Officers were aware of the lower funding, so were looking across all services to help (whether commissioning other services or through external groups), but it was necessary to undertake the work to get the money.
· There were no families overlapping Phase 1 and Phase 2, as it was not possible to work with families worked with or claimed for previously. There was an internal auditing process, a Lambeth data analyst, and regular spot checks undertaken by DCLG to avoid claiming twice; so the 100% figure was accurate.
· Referral onto the programme was through a pre-determined list or by professional referral, and was a very strict two way process, so that auditors are satisfied that they are sure this is done legitimately.
· The London-wide Troubled Families Co-ordinators Group was supported by London councils, with dedicated officers leading on gathering national momentum, analysing what works and feeding into wider work. There was data sharing from police, to the establishment of a sole lead on data for the programme and how this is shared. It was not possible to underestimate the highly-intensive work to gather data, process and put in returns, so it was not possible to spread across services at this time, but officers stated that future reviews would occur; although this was already a concentrated multi-agency approach to deliver good results.
That the implementation framework for Phase 2 of the Lambeth Troubled Families Outcome Plan be endorsed.