Sheffield families tell Levelling Up minister Kemi Badenoch where they need help the most

Sheffield families met with a Government minister today to say where they needed help the most to tackle the stresses of social problems.

Wednesday, 29th June 2022, 3:59 pm

Poor school attendance, mental health challenges and unhappy households are the targets of a recent revamp to the Government’s ‘Supporting Families’ project.

Previously called ‘Troubled Families’, the programme aims to link disadvantaged families with what services in their area can help them.

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Minister for Levelling Up Communities Kemi Badenoch visited Sheffield today to promote the Government's revamp of the Supporting Families programme.

£210m annually will be split across the country’s local authorities, with Sheffield receiving £2.33m this year.

Today (June 29), Minister for Levelling Up Kemi Badenoch met with Sheffield families, council workers and groups to hear what issues needed tackling the most.

Ms Badenoch told The Star: “One good thing about this programme is that early intervention is very much a strategy we want for tackling our problems, not waiting until we get to emergency situations, and trying to catch issues before they mushroom.”

In Sheffield, the money will go towards the city council’s Multi-Agency Support Team (MAST) and the Building Successful Families scheme.

The programme intervenes with around 2,500 disadvantaged Sheffield families a year and links them with doctors, mental health services and support services to get households working together again.

At the meetup at Sharrow Community Forum, in Vincent Road, families and councils workers told the minister how the Government needed to cut through mental health service waiting times.

They also felt schools and local authorities did not show enough understanding for children whose ‘bad behaviour’ was brought on by trauma.

Ms Badenoch said: “The Government recognises that the demand for mental health services has increased astronomically and we’re looking for the causes of that.

"As a constituency MP [for Saffron Waldon, Essex], it’s something I see a lot in surgeries. Something is happening that is creating a lot of stress for young people in particular.

"There’s a lot we need to look at and we are making sure that we don’t forget the families that are the most vulnerable and disadvantaged, and it’s really important we set out funding that’s specifically for them.”

Although the move away from calling the service ‘Troubled Families’ was welcomed, UK charity The Children’s Society expressed concerns last week the funding was “limited” and that its “strict criteria” would lock families out of it.

In response, Ms Badenoch said: “We have demands for so many services. funding is limited because the funding Government has is limited, and we are dealing with so many issues like inflation and general council funding.

"I understand what the Children’s Society is saying, that we need to give more, but I think the amount we’ve given, when you take resources into account, is the appropriate one.”

For more information on the council’s MAST services, as well as its ‘Positive Parenting’ programme with free advice on tackling household troubles, visit their website.

In February, Sheffield South East MP Clive Betts told the House of Commons the Government had reduced the city’s budget by £430m since 2011, saying: “In real terms, £3 billion has been stolen from Sheffield City Council through cuts made by Conservative Governments since 2010 – and today they’re giving us a paltry £13 million back via the city region [through Levelling Up]. It’s just dishonest.”

In response to this, Ms Badenoch said cuts to public funding was something “we had to do because of the state of public finance at the time”.