David Cameron has given a target to local councils that by 2015 they are to have turned round 120,000 Troubled Families. These are families which each cost the taxpayer an estimated average of £75,000 a year. It's not just the welfare bill but the army of public sector operatives constantly meeting them - the social workers, the police, the housing officers, the education welfare officers and so on. Yet after that spending the children are truant from school, family members take part in crime and anti social behaviour and at least one adult family member is on out-of-work benefits.
Councils will be paid by results for families where the children go back to school, the adults get into work and crime ceases. How councils achieve this will be up to them but the basis will be of dealing the family as a whole - rather than expensive and unconnected contact with individual members.
So far the programme is on course. Progress varies from council to council but overall it is ahead of schedule. Leicestershire County Council has already identified 679 of its 810 families - 170% of those it agreed to in the first year of the programme - and is already actively working with 470.