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Asbo families costing Westminster taxpayers’ £275,000 a year

PUBLISHED: 16:45 12 October 2010 | UPDATED: 18:52 12 October 2010

A SINGLE nuisance family costs Westminster taxpayers up to £275,000 a year, a council report has revealed.

The huge sum covers the expenditure incurred by the police, the council and the NHS when dealing with an unruly family.

It also includes the costs of welfare benefits and associated problems such as drug abuse and truancy.

Among the list of charges are £5,350 for an Asbo, £23,200 to tackle domestic violence, £2,740 for adult mental health services, £13,000 to carry out an eviction and £17,400 to treat drug addiction.

The shocking findings emerged from a study of 50 families, some of whom live in North Westminster, who have been put forward to take part in the council’s Family Recovery Programme.

Kay Konop, who lives and works in Maida Vale, said the payouts needed to stop but agreed that money should be spent on preventing the problems from continuing.

She said: “Yes I think the cost is horrendous for people being anti-social. Where is our social responsibility?

“But I think it’s encouraging to hear that councils are trying to change people’s behaviour. We’ve got to spend to save.”

St John’s Wood resident Grazyna Green also condemned the high costs and admitted that she was sceptical about how much some families could be helped.

She said: “It’s despicable. I just think they should be made to pay as they would be in America. We’re far too lenient because we pay out of work people more benefits than the people in work.

“These people probably come from generations of yobs.”

The council claims the Family Recovery Programme helps to cut down the costs listed in the report – saving money for the taxpayer but also helping the nuisance families mend their ways.

It costs around £19,500 per family and involves them signing a contract setting out their responsibilities and the potential consequences of persistently refusing support.

In return, families get “targeted and intensive intervention” from the council, police, the NHS and the voluntary sector to provide them with support to get their lives back on track.

Early indications show the scheme saves local taxpayers more than £1million a year, the council said.

Children’s Minister Tim Loughton said: “The projects provide immediate and longer-term reductions in service costs. In the current economic climate, it is only when agencies work together and pool resources that we can achieve vast improvements to services without vast investments.”

Meanwhile, local opinion is divided on the government’s plans to reform the benefit system unveiled at their party conference this week.


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