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St Helens Council supports the Government’s ‘Troubled Families’ initiative for families with complex needs. This aims to support families struggling to cope and will encourage them to play a stable role in their own communities. In St Helens, the initiative has been renamed as ‘Priority Families’, to be more positive and engaging.
The Council will be identifying those families with the most pressing and complex needs. This will involve some sharing of information between Council departments and with other organisations (such as housing, health, education, employment, and criminal justice partners). Any such sharing will be done proportionately and lawfully for the purpose of identifying those families who meet the initiative’s criteria and most need this support. It will be done to ensure that services are better coordinated and focused for those families. Consent will be obtained prior to sharing information wherever possible. However, there may be circumstances in which it is deemed necessary and lawful to share information without consent in accordance with the St Helens Priority Families Programme Information Sharing Agreement (copy available upon request).
To understand whether the national Troubled Families Programme has been effective in helping families turn their lives around and whether it is a good use of public money, the Government would also like to combine personal data held by local authorities (such as names and dates of birth) with information routinely collected by Government Departments. This is called the 'National Impact Study' (NIS), and more detail on how this is being carried out by the Government and its research partners can be found via the Related Documents section at the bottom of this page.
In summary, the progress of families who have taken part in the Programme will be compared with those who have not. This will provide information about how effective it has been in reducing offending, truancy, health issues and getting people ready for work, and will be used to help improve the programme and services you may receive in the future.
It is important to note that the personal data (names, dates of birth and addresses) will be removed from any combined datasets before they are provided back to the research organisation (the Office for National Statistics, working on behalf of the Department for Communities and Local Government). This means it will be impossible for anyone to identify you from any published reports because information will be anonymised.
The combined data on your progress cannot be shared with St Helens Council or used to make decisions about what you currently receive – it will in no way affect any benefits, services or treatment you may be entitled to. The data can only be used for research, with the goal of improving services in the future, and is part of a larger evaluation of the programme. Your personal data will be destroyed at the end of the research.
All data will be transferred, handled and stored in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998. Legally binding agreements are in place between St Helens Council, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), and the research organisation (ONS), and agreements are in place between Government Departments, to ensure that all parties comply with the strict rules on handling, transferring, storing and destroying the data under the Data Protection Act 1998.
For more information on the Priority Families initiative at this authority, contact:
Priority Families Project Manager
St Helens Council
Tel: 01744 678 034