WORK by Swindon council’s social workers with troubled families has been praised highly by the government.

And that could also earn the borough council hundreds of thousands of pounds in performance bonuses paid by Whitehall.

The national troubled families programme asks local authorities to work with families to help them and there is a payment by results funding model. For every family achieving a successful outcome, the council receives £800.

A letter to the council from Kirby Swales, deputy director of the programme at the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government says a spot check showed claims of success by the council to be valid.

Even better, Mr Swales wrote high praise: “We have been really pleased to see the significant improvement in Swindon’s performance over the past year and would particularly like to thank David Haley for his leadership and commitment to early help and whole family working.

“If your strong performance continues, and you meet your commitment to achieve outcomes for 1,310 families, a further £650,000 can be accessed over the next 15 months to support families and service transformation in Swindon.”

A P.S. added: “I visited Swindon and was really impressed with the joining up with the community health services. Well done on the improved performance.”

Mary Martin is the council’s cabinet member in charge of children’s services.

She said: “ This is particularly pleasing because the assessment is very much outcome-based and it has to be a sustainable positive outcome.

You can’t just say something has been sorted out for a day or a few weeks. It has to be ongoing and properly sustained, often over a 12-month period.

“The work we do with families often gives them confidence to make improvements elsewhere in their lives.

"This is clearly a beacon in our work and we should be holding our heads up very high about the success we are having.”

It was Swindon council which was instrumental in the government setting up its own troubled families programme.

The council started its own LIFE Programme – building new Lives for Individuals and Families to Enjoy – in 2009.

After riots in London and England in 2011 then-prime minister David Cameron hailed the success of the programme which had been working with more than 350 families, and it was used as a model a year later by the then Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles for the national Troubled Families scheme.