Voluntary Termination

Wirral Council Twitter

Although we do have an account  @WIRRALLEAKS we really don’t do Twitter. Even 280 words would never be enough for us and the relentless self promotion on this particular platform would put us off our stroke (or give us one).

However talking of which we couldn’t help commenting on Wirral Council’s Twitter header which has winged its way to us.

Forgive us – but when some of the most self serving people on planet earth have the temerity to ask us “When was the last time ……you did something for someone else” and use, not so much a picture as a visual tick box , it makes us want to empty the brown paper bag full of fresh vegetables and throw up into it – especially when you consider how the high and mighty at Wirral Council seem to have such little regard for ethnic minorities and the vulnerable . And furthermore as Her Ladyship said about the woman in the fingerless mittens – somebody needs to call  Kingdom’s fashion police and tell them to issue a Penalty Charge Notice.

Now we’ve said this before , we know kindness is never wasted and all that , and people who do voluntary work and who don’t expect to win awards and plaudits for doing so are to be valued. However the relentless promotion by Wirral Council of doing something for someone else to make us feel good about ourselves doesn’t sit well with us when it is presented in a queasy mix of  virtue signalling and guilt tripping . Might we suggest that encouraging people to plug the gaps in what’s left of public services makes highly paid public service ‘transformers’ feel even better ? Isn’t this what David Cameron’s ‘Big Society ‘ was largely all about? He must be happy as a pig in muck that this part of his vision for Britain where voluntary work replaces paid work and which hastens the termination of hard fought public services has been lovingly embraced by Labour councils?

Furthermore isn’t there’s something a bit sickening about Wirral Council workers who are enduring pay freezes, redundancy threats and imposition of unpaid leave are encouraged to undertake further work for no pay as when Wirral Council piously launched  a Voluntary Leave Policy      earlier this year :

To support this, the Council will promote volunteering and encourage employees to volunteer their help, time and support to make a difference to their local community.

Interestingly enough we’ve had a few people who used to work for Wirral Council and who were quite happy to do voluntary work  but were put off when they discovered that they were being asked to do complex work dealing with vulnerable people that used to be undertaken by the statutory services they had previously worked for! The further irony being that Wirral Council were part funding the management of this service!

Of course we should expect that Wirral Council’s senior management would want to promote this volunteering initiative and lead by example. Shall we look forward to a picture of Wirral Council CEO Eric Robinson emptying his recyclable Waitrose bag full of ethically sourced goodies at a Wirral soup kitchen on Christmas Day ? Or failing that do as one of his predecessors , Steve Maddox,  used to do and donate his Returning Officer expenses to a worthy charity? Or will we see interim head of law Philip McCourt popping into the one stop shop to do a bit of pro bono welfare rights work when the flawed introduction of Universal Credit wreaks havoc ? Let’s hope Wirral Council’s  communications department don’t forget to obtain pictures and post on their Twitter page  – as nowadays an act of selflessness didn’t happen unless there’s a selfie!

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Parklife

Park 010

As a diversion from our sarcasm and irreverence and as part of our public interest / public service remit we publish correspondence concerned  with  the ‘re-imagining’ of Wirral Council’s Leisure and Cultural Services. I think we all know what ‘re-imagining’ is Council-speak for don’t we folks?

As far as we’re concerned it is the manifestation of former Tory  PM David Cameron’s ‘Big Society ‘ (remember that?) . This so-called big idea was nothing more than the further rolling back of the state and the jeopardising of philanthropic bequests of open spaces and buildings for the benefit of all under the guise of ’empowerment’ and ‘community involvement’ and ‘localism’.

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jul/09/the-end-of-park-life-as-we-know-it-the-battle-for-britains-green-spaces-rowan-moore

Wirral Council appear to be doing their pretend ‘consultation’ schtick again as the grandiloquently titled Strategic Commisionner – Environment , Mark Smith sends out details of surveys and workshops . It’s fair to say there’s a great of deal of concern about developments among Friend’s groups and volunteers .

This is an extract from an initial response from Wirral Parks Forum :

  • There has been inadequate consultation with key stakeholders by the London based consultants, Bates, Wells, Brathwaite (BWB) in the preparation of their report “Wirral BC – Re-imagining Leisure and Cultural Services.”
  • Numerous Friends Groups, volunteer organisations, Trade Unions, Parks Friends Forum and Friends of the Libraries have all expressed significant concerns over the contents and accuracy of this report not least because the key stakeholders, who know our Leisure and Cultural Assets best, have not been involved or consulted over the production of this report.
  • We believe it is expensive folly to have spent £284,000 of Taxpayers money on a report without recourse to such important stakeholders as their knowledge and experience is vital in bringing out key issues in developing future options for our Leisure and Cultural Assets.
  • By disenfranchising these key stakeholders at this stage of the process the Council risks missing out on significant benefits and therefore this process should be paused to allow a period of consultation and engagement, which is missing from the BWB report, prior to moving to options appraisal and development of the full business case.
Ultimately the committee voted to proceed to Phase II – i.e a Business Case with the proviso there would be a period for consultation.  This was to take place in a 5 week period.  The Business case was to be prepared for September 2017.
 
The Wirral Parks Forum Committee was in the process of organising our diaries with the intention of meeting with all Friends groups regarding the forthcoming consultation, when we received the following email regarding the consultation.  
 
I urge you to get as many Friends group members to apply for a place on a workshop and to encourage every member and their friends to complete the on line survey. Perhaps put the links up on your Facebook pages?   I have applied for a place and will have to wait 5 days to have it confirmed or rejected.   I will write to Mark Smith Strategic Commissioner – Environment, to express my concern regarding the process as it maybe that Friends Groups committees may not get a chance to get someone on a workshop. There are only 4 workshops of 2 hours each and they are clearly space limited.  I will ask if there can be deeper consultation with Friends of Parks groups over the summer period.  I feel this is an important issue, as Friends Groups provide many volunteer man hours and raise a lot of money to keep their local parks functioning and running events. 
 

Dear Resident,

As you are aware we are considering how leisure, libraries and cultural services could be delivered in the future in Wirral. These services play a vital role in the lives of not only residents but also those visiting our borough. They are crucial for the health, wellbeing and development of residents but also contribute to our local economy.

We want sustainable services that meet the needs of users and visitors, now and in the future and remain committed to the Pledges we made as part of the Wirral Plan, most notably:

“we will encourage more people to enjoy a wide range of leisure, cultural and sporting opportunities on offer across Wirral. We will listen to resident’s ideas and requests, and by 2020, we will have increased access to events and activities to all our residents, regardless of age and income”

To achieve this aim, we need to think about the way that we deliver services and consider innovations that will continue to provide the right outcomes for the community whilst responding to the budget pressures that the council faces

We do not want to ask people for input once a decision has been made. Instead, we have the opportunity to work on ideas together, to get a better understanding of what people want and need, and to feed this into the design and decision making process.

To do this, we are inviting key stakeholders to attend workshops that will focus on each service area. Workshops will run between 17th July and 26th July.  We would be delighted if you could join us. Spaces are limited so please apply for a space via our online booking system (link to booking) indicating which session you would like to attend. Spaces will be allocated on a first come first served basis.

The intention for each session is to have an introduction by either Andrew Elkington, Interim Director for Community Services, or Mark Smith, Strategic Commissioners for Environment, followed by facilitated round table discussions where we will consider:

  • your opinions about the existing services
  • your views on priorities for the evaluation of future options
  • your ideas and innovations
  • your concerns

 

In addition, we are asking the general public to join the conversation by participating in an online survey which you can access via this link. Staff will also be invited to contribute through the same survey and their own workshops. Please feel free to contribute to the survey if you’re unable to make it to a workshop session.

All of the information gathered across these different forums will be used to:

  • Inform how services could be delivered in the future – this will form part of a Full Business Case which will outline options and will go to Cabinet in October
  • Generate ideas for innovation in specific services – this will also influence the Business Case but will be of most value once a decision has been made and services are looking at the detail of delivery for their area
  • Help us to understand what’s important to people, what works well and not so well – again this will inform the Business Case but will create added insight and intelligence about what local people and groups value.

 

To be clear, we are not considering any fundamental changes to the services received across Libraries, Leisure and Culture Services. We are considering how these services could be delivered in the future and who is best placed to deliver them to ensure that they are sustainable; this could be by continuing to provide services directly by the council or through an alternative delivery model such as a council owned company or charitable trust 

I appreciate that many of you may have already contributed to a recent review of library services but we wanted to make sure that people were invited to participate across all service areas. We will do our best to avoid duplicating any of this with you during the workshop.

Kind regards

Mark Smith
Strategic Commissioner – Environment

Pop Ups For The People

Barclays 011

When we first heard that a disused bank in Hamilton Square had been taken over to house and feed the homeless we naively thought that  Wirral Chamber of  Commerce under the guise of a ‘Birkenhead First ‘ initiative were behind it.

We weren’t just convinced because the former bank was a Barclay’s – which let’s face it has to be the Chamber’s bank of choice! No! -we also found out the ‘Love Activists’ were involved . We assumed this was an offshoot of  the Chamber’s  ‘Fantastic Festival of Beautiful Things’ . All very touchy-feely, hippy -drippy and vaguely nauseating.

Fantastic Festival of BS

Plus the fact it all seemed to encompass two headlining modern themes : ‘pop ups’ and ‘homelessness’ – which all of a sudden are ‘sexy’.  As we know the Chamber of Horrors CEO Paula Basnett can’t open her mouth without using the term ‘pop- ups’  but when it comes to homelessness were not talking about vagrant love we’re talking about how homelessness (like foodbanks) have suddenly become a fashionable issue to be seen to support . Something which shames us all.

Birkenhead First (Among Equals)

Now we hesitate to use the term virtue-signalling because as Aesop said : ” No act of kindness ,no matter how small, is ever wasted” . However there appears to have been a worrying shift from preventing homelessness to sustaining the homeless on the street. Dare we suggest this approach only exacerbates the homelessness situation. There are sandwiches, hot drinks, blankets and even haircuts dispensed by commendable volunteers but no money for support services and a lack of affordable housing which would prevent vulnerable people ending up on the street in the first place!

As far as we’re concerned this is David Cameron’s nightmare vision for a ‘ Big Society’ made flesh . A community of volunteers providing what were essential public services to the vulnerable as there is no other option because public money has been diverted to pay inflated salaries to high level ‘public’ servants who frankly don’t care if the homeless (or any of us) live or die.

Now of course we know that Wirral Chamber of Commerce have nothing whatsoever to do with this particular ‘pop up’ we are warming to the ‘Love Activists’. They even offered our photographer a cup of tea. They seem to understand that life is is rough out there for rough sleepers especially when it isn’t for our rapacious leaders .

Barclays 012.JPG

Troubled Minds

Frank and Cameron 2

Wirral’s ‘Troubled’ Families Project

‘As an ever increasing number of families become dysfunctional

an ever increasing supply of socially offensive individuals results’

Frank Field MP -‘Neighbours From Hell’

‘They [the troubled families] are the source of a large proportion of the problems

in society. Drug addiction. Alcohol abuse. Crime. A culture of disruption

and irresponsibility that cascades through the generations…a small number

of these families cost an extraordinary amount of money’’

David Cameron MP Oldbury Speech; 2011

This is the story of how central governments and compliant local authorities like Wirral, have wasted vast sums of tax payer money in failing to ‘re-programme’ poor, vulnerable families in the underclass via ineffective, sanctions led, interventions. There is a very long history in this country of the middle class political establishment defining the poorest elements of the underclass as ‘folk devils’: costly nuisances, threats to social and ‘moral’ stability and even as an existential threat to racial purity and survival.

‘Some [of the underclass families] are of low intelligence, most of low educational attainment. The balance of our population, our human stock, is threatened’ Sir Keith Joseph intellectual godfather of Thatcherism; 1974

In the early 20th century such thinking led to an active eugenics movement in western democracies justifying the sterilisation or confinement of social misfits including unmarried mothers, the disabled, beggars, homosexuals, addicts, prostitutes and problem children. Herr Hitler, learning from the eugenic engineers of the democracies, spun the unacceptable cost of the disabled German ‘useless mouths’ and with the help of doctors and the local authorities, quietly began to murder disabled children and adults. By 1942 all were gone. The SS Aktion Gruppe T4, who had developed the necessary murder technology, then went on to new triumphs at Belsen and Auschwitz.

Of course today we would not countenance such horrors…would we? Yet the underclass is still projected as a major threat …’crime, drug and alcohol addiction’…’a culture of disruption’…’socially offensive individuals’…’scroungers’…’benefit cheats’…’ASBO yobs’…’families from hell’: familiar descriptors in the propaganda of the last four governments.

By denigrating ‘troubled families’, the last and current governments have eliminated any sympathy for these people, justifying harsh, sanctions based, interventions against them and general reductions in unemployment, sickness, working tax credit, and child tax credit benefits. Now, in summer 2015, we find that the Conservatives will limit child related benefits to two children. Are we seeing here the rebirth of eugenics motivated social policies? After all, why should we fund their ‘lifestyle choices’? Our very own Frank Field has proposed combating poverty by sending poor,’ irresponsible’ parents who can’t budget, who supposedly spend money on non-essentials and so fail to feed their children, to the Troubled Families Projects for re-programming.  In fact we will see that the families targeted for ‘The Troubled Families Programme’ have ‘lifestyles’ which heavily feature long standing physical and mental illnesses, genuine inability to work and children with learning disabilities. These are families in hell, not families from hell. Very few are criminal; very few are drug or alcohol addicted, despite the false claims of Cameron. We will also see how the public has been shamefully hoodwinked by equally false claims of project success in ‘turning families around’ and saving money. We will use data obtained from the official Dept. for Communities & Local Government website and Freedom of Information Act requests to Wirral Council and the government.

Nationally 120,000 families were targeted, supposedly for being lazy, criminal drug addicts but actually for having multiple forms of deprivation. In Wirral 910 were targeted. In the TFP local authorities like Wirral were paid a bounty of £3,200 for each family signed up. Additional bounties were paid by results. That is for

* an adult who gains continuous work for 6 months                                        £800

* a family meeting the ‘crime/ anti-social behaviour/ education’ target            £700

So what did the Wirral project achieve? Overall locally, 910 families were ‘reprogrammed’.

In March 2015 a conference at the New Brighton Floral Pavilion ‘celebrated’ the ‘remarkable success’ in ‘turning around’ the lives of these families. Cllr. Tony Smith, Cabinet Member for Children & Family Services, said (in www. wirral.gov.uk/news/17-03-2015)

We have seen a hugely successful outcome thanks to close partnership working between public sector bodies and Wirral families’

The close working partnership included ‘assertive, non-negotiable interventions’ and ‘tough sanctions’ for non-cooperation. The government has repeatedly stressed the role of sanctions e.g.

‘Sanctions are key. The threat of sanctions and the use of sanctions provide both a way of curbing bad behaviour and also a lever for persuading people to co-operate fully

…families need an intensive, persistent and if necessary coercive approach’

This approach was applied to the many families with mental health problems and learning disabled children as we will see. The council claimed that

‘67% of participants re-engaged with or stayed in employment, education or training in 2013/14…’

Er?…clearly those who stayed in work, or education, or training  may have done so without project interventions. In fact at entry 74% of households were workless. The key question is: how many families got somebody back into work over the duration of the project? The answer is 2.6%. Of course these people may have got jobs anyway without the project. It would have been useful to know what % got a job in the year before project entry, would it not? However no such data is collected in the TF projects. Neither are there any control groups of similar families run in parallel with the projects which would have provided a solid baseline. Strictly speaking, as the DfC&LG admits in the appendices of it’s reports, out of sight of the media, claimed family changes cannot objectively be attributed to the project interventions. Even if we accept the 2.6% change in employment this leaves 71.4% of households workless. Can this truthfully be described as ‘hugely successful’?  Surely our Council is either shamefully careless and numerically incompetent in its reporting or deliberately lying to tax payers? Surely either explanation is unacceptable?

The Council claim is that family turn around in the ‘crime / anti-social behaviour / education’ arena was also a great success. We are told of a

‘95% reduction of ASB across all families engaged with the service’

In fact, for the Wirral, the DfC&LG database tells us that 77.2% of the families had met the ‘crime/ASB/education’ improvement target …not quite 95% but still an apparently impressive result. However there is a slight problem. My FoIA request to Wirral Council yielded additional data. It turns out that at project entry 93.5% of adults had no reports of ASB; 89.6% of children had no reports of ASB; 87% of minors had no proven offences; only 1.2% of the children had an ASBO or Acceptable Behaviour Contract. By the way local authorities were not obliged to record the frequency and severity of supposed ASB. The pattern is similar across the country. This is surely a long way from government spin that all our families are criminal and anti-social.

So how can we explain the claim that 95% or 77.2% of families had met the ‘crime / ASB/ education’ target?  If most had no ASB or crime to start with the ‘turn around’ must be in educational issues. We find that 13% of children had three or more temporary exclusions from school at entry. 42% of children had 15% or more unauthorised absences in three school terms. It appears that our Wirral project reduced truancy…a useful result surely? However looking at the official success criteria we discover that a ‘turned around’ child could be regularly absent for 1 day in 7 and still be claimed as a success ! A child could have fixed exclusions at 66% of his entry rate and still be claimed as a success ! By the way the work and crime cluster claims were based on a period of only six months. Cllr. Smith transformed this into ‘effects’ lasting into ‘future generations’. I suggest these are rather low success thresholds for claiming Smith’s ‘hugely successful outcome’ on behalf of the Council.

Perhaps more importantly, by reporting ‘success’ for the ‘crime / ASB / education’ aggregated cluster, a deliberately false impression is given to the public of high initial levels of crime and ASB in the families then successfully reduced by the projects. In fact what has been achieved is a modest, partial reduction in truancy. There is rather a big difference between adult crime and truancy.  Coupled with the mere 2.6% claimed fall in unemployment the TF project results for Wirral are ‘remarkable’ only for the way the tax payer has been misled by the Council and nationally by the government. The Council also proudly records the praise of Louise Casey, the Troubled Families Tsar, who told them it was

‘a fantastic performance’ from a ‘tremendous team’

Given the actual results in Wirral this is an astonishing conclusion, but then Casey has a long history of fantastical outbursts, recommending ministers to come into work ‘pissed’ and threatening to ‘deck’ anybody at No. 10 if they mention ‘evidence based policy one more time’. (This was at a Home Office / ACPO formal dinner in 2006 when she was Blair’s Respect Tsar, as reported by what she calls the ‘friggin Guardian’; see below).

Let’s look at costs. Cameron claimed that the 120,000 troubled families nationally cost the state a horrific £9 billion per annum. The promise was made that the TF Programme would eliminate these costs. So how much was saved? Supposedly by March 2015 117,910 families had been processed. 8.9% allegedly met the employment criterion (compared with 2.6% in Wirral). 80.6% met the ‘crime / ASB / education’ criterion (compared with 77% in Wirral). The average family allegedly cost a computed £26,000 per annum to support at project entry based on benefits, social service costs and criminal justice system costs. Conveniently this was also the total benefits cap set by the Coalition government. The DfC&LG claims that £11,200 per annum per family was saved by the projects giving a total of £1.18 billion per annum. However these are not delivered savings but hypothetical estimates based on complex assumptions about sustained changes in family behaviour into the future. Remember the ‘changes’ had only been monitored for six months while the families were under close supervision. Many years of evidence on previous family intervention projects suggests a rapid decay when support is removed. Also please note that local authority data on ‘success’ was not audited by any outside body and the project data are not recognised as official government statistics. The reader may find all this highly suspicious but I could not possibly comment!

You will recall that Cameron claimed that £9 billion, not the highly doubtful £1.2 billion, would be saved. This was noticed in some places. On March 10th 2015 Eric Pickles, Communities Minster, reported to the House of Commons on the TFP ‘triumph’. He was challenged by Hilary Benn MP about the claims. He replied

‘ The Rt. Hon. Gentleman made a number of points on how we can demonstrate success and square the £1.2 billion [savings] with the £9 billion [we promised]…this is notoriously difficult territory because governments of all types are absolutely terrible at measuring outcomes’

And I suggest, normally good at deliberately stacking the deck to maximise the appearance of policy outcome success. Even so £1.2 billion is a long way from £9 billion …even with fiddled data. This time the state was tripped up by its own spin and lies. Look at the data released again. The average saving per family was £11,200 compared with a £26,000 starting cost. This means that the remaining cost per family is 26,000 – 11,200 = £14,800 per annum. This is 56.9% of the starting cost. But 89.5% of families were ‘turned around’. Does this mean that the 10.5% of unreformed families now carry 56.9% of the starting costs? In fact it tells us that the ‘turn around’ criteria’ are not strongly linked to the actual costs generated by the families. Remember that only 8.9% of families got a member back into work. We can also show that success on the ‘crime / ASB / education’ criterion has little effect on costs. For example, nationally only 10% of adults had a proven offence. In Wirral only 6.5% of adults had an ASB report.

So where do the costs that lead to the £26,000 per annum troubled family total come from? We know that the average troubled family has 1.7 adults and 2.5 children. DfC&LG survey data tells us that the children had high levels of disability and illnesses. 39% had a statement of special educational needs; 33% had a mental health problem; 19% had a long standing physical illness; 46% of families had one or more adults with a mental health problem; 33% of adults had a long standing illness; 83% of families received out of work benefits; 97% were in social housing or temporary accommodation. These are very poor, very sick families. If we consult the various state benefit websites we can enter the average demographics and health profiles for our families and calculate the benefit and service costs they would attract. Depending on assumptions we get a range of £21,000 to £29,000 per annum. This compares with the claimed average cost of £26,000 per troubled family. My calculation did not include an estimate of criminal justice system costs for the 10% of adults who had at some time offended. The match is still good.

The bulk of our families are costly because they are unemployed, with chronically, physically and mentally ill adults, and larger than average numbers of children, many of whom are learning disabled and ill. If the families cannot work and many children are disabled it is difficult to see how a significant reduction in the average £26,000 cost could be achieved other than by stopping unemployment and the additional benefits currently associated with those disabled children. Threats, sanctions and parenting classes delivered by the Troubled Families Projects cannot affect these costs in any significant way. The TFPs are simply a cynical fraud on the public. However, the harsh denigration of the families opens the way to justifying drastic cuts in current benefits as we are beginning to see. Even so the government’s £9 billion savings target is a fantasy figure…unless sterilisation, euthanasia and other eugenic measures are indeed back on the table for a significant section of the underclass. This Conservative government’s aim now is to re-programme a further 400,000 troubled families.

Let’s go back to Cameron’s spin and compare it with what we have learned.

‘They [the troubled families] are the source of a large proportion of the problems in society. Drug addiction. Alcohol abuse. Crime. A culture of disruption and irresponsibility that cascades through the generations. A small number of these families cost an extraordinary amount of money.’

Surely any state action against such people is justified? Yes, they cost a lot, but they are long term unemployed with remarkably high levels of chronic physical and mental illness and learning disability in the children, as the official data show. But aren’t they are also criminals with irresponsible life styles? The DfC&LG national evaluation of the families tells us that only 3% of adults in the families had been treated for non-prescription drug dependency; only 3% had been treated for alcohol dependency; 90% of adults had not offended; 93.5% of adults had no ASB; 89.6% of children had no ASB; the under 18 conception rate was only 2%.  We shrug off political rhetoric and spin these days …politicians lie, that’s all…but in this case that lying rhetoric has lethal consequences for vulnerable, poor families across the country.

One more time, let’s say again that the Troubled Families Programme has not worked and cannot work. In fact let’s listen to Louise Casey, Cameron’s Troubled Families Tsar, who was also Blair’s ASBO and Respect Tsar and who ran the state family intervention apparatus for many years and still does

‘As hard as it is to accept, the truth is despite our best efforts over many years – and I include myself in that – we just haven’t got it right. We haven’t succeeded in getting these families to change or in stopping the transmission of problems from generation to generation – we just haven’t’

Casey came clean privately at the Reform right wing think tank on 12.06.14. So there you have it from the horse’s mouth. In public her stance on these vulnerable, sick, helpless families was

We should be talking about things like shame and guilt …we have lost the ability to be judgmental because we worry about being seen as nasty to poor people’

Her boss, Eric Pickles, was of a like mind

‘We have sometimes run away from categorising, stigmatising, laying blame. We need a less understanding approach’

Since Pickles had over a decade of evidence at his disposal and commissioned the national survey of troubled families characteristics he was well aware of their true nature. Pickles and Casey deserve the highest level of contempt from anyone who believes government is obliged to tell the truth to citizens; anyone with an ounce of compassion.

So what did this latest farce cost us nationally and locally? The central government TFP cost was £462 million to date with local authorities spending an additional £153 million.

The pro-rated cost for a project of Wirral’s scale with 910 families would be £4.75 million. Was a modest reduction in truancy and getting less than 24 adults back into work for 6 months,that is at £198,000 per job, good value for money? Cllr. Smith remember, calls all this ‘a hugely successful outcome’. By the way Smith et al were only celebrating ‘phase 1’ at the Floral Pavilion. Nationally ‘phase 2’ will re-programme a further 400,000 families at a cost of £800 million to £1.6 billion. If Wirral processes the same share of families as in phase 1 it will cost the local tax payer a minimum of £6.2 million up to £12.3 million. Do you really want to spend this money on a discredited, abusive, politically motivated, voodoo social engineering project?

Wirral Council cannot use the Nuremberg defence: I was only following orders. Phase 1 of the TFP was voluntary. Like many councils Wirral was seduced by the easy money of a £3,200 bounty for just signing up a family. Phase 2 pays only £1,000 up front and appears to be compulsory. The administrative load in data gathering and reporting will be much higher, costing us more locally. Wirral chose to dance with the Devil and now the tax payers here will pay for the second, grander dance.

At the same time the National Children’s Bureau, using the Freedom of Information Act, has discovered that funding for ‘early intervention’ on children needing help, has fallen from £3.18 billion in 2010/11 to £1.44 billion in 2014/15, a fall of 54.8%. Many scientifically valid studies (unlike the invalid TFP evaluations), including the Allen Reviews, have demonstrated the cost effectiveness of real clinical / educational interventions. For example the Centre for Mental Health in February 2015 found that school based treatment aimed at ‘conduct disorders’ (yes, the mentally disordered kids from our families excluded from school) cost ~£108 per child but later returned nearly £3,000 per child ‘turned around’. Tackling aggressive adolescents returned less than £27,700 per child for a treatment cost of £1,260. There is also much evidence that simple changes in nutrition can have massive positive effects on child behaviour. But with current family benefit cuts and sanctions this government is moving in exactly the wrong direction to improve child behaviour and learning. Let us hope that the local food banks can blunt some of the inevitable child malnutrition. There is also growing evidence that damaging epigenetic factors related to childhood deprivation can indeed ‘cascade through the generations’.

If multi-generational deprivation, not ‘irresponsibility’, has cursed our families’ genes then Cameron’s demonising comments become even more offensive and misguided.

This has been a short summary of the current position. If the reader wants to know more about the history of failed intervention in ASB, dysfunctional, chaotic, troubled families and the evidence for how we can help these families through professional medical interventions, remedial education and improved nutrition, please see

‘Troubled Families: State Lies, Demonisation and Voodoo Social Engineering’, David P Gregg; Green Man Books 2015; ISBN 978 – 1514170588.

If you wish to learn more about New Labour thinking on dysfunctional families, which started eighteen years of abuse, the hysterical role of Frank Field MP in that thinking,and the rational counter-arguments against it, please see

‘Politicians From Hell’, David P Gregg; Green Man Books 2015; ISBN 978 – 1507610275.

See also ‘Uncle Frank’s Hunger Games’ on Wirral Leaks.

Tomorrows Headlines Today !

BY-GEORGE

In time honoured Wirral Council tradition the following headline has been redacted….
CH_HEADLINE

We invite our readers to indulge in some summer time fun and fill in the redactions!

Please mark your entries : Restorative Justice