Focus Family - Adults Out of Work or at Risk of Financial Exclusion or Young People at Risk of Worklessness

As can be seen from the Worklessness page of the Family Outcome Plan (below) a wide range of factors can be considered for a family to meet this criterion. The plans focus on priority areas of adults or young people out of work, young people at risk of being not in education, employment or training and families at risk of financial exclusion.

The aim of the work is twofold; to put support in that will keep families and young people in work, or for those not in work, to move nearer or into sustainable employment.

Some useful things to consider are:

  • Can be either a young person or adult in need of support.

  • Support can be given directly by Focus Family Employment Adviser working in partnership with a variety of local specialist organisations.

  • Encouragement and ongoing support will be given to eligible families to consider Volunteering, Training and Education, Apprenticeships or Traineeships where appropriate.

What difference will this approach make?

Focus Family is a way of working that aims to improve families' experience when they need additional help. A benefit of this is that it will support service reform through reduced duplication of services, reduced demand on and re-referrals to acute services. Many of the families identified as meeting Focus Family criteria have intergenerational, complex issues with agencies involved at an individual level. It is important for families to receive a holistic support package and to ensure this is the case it is expected this work will be joined up as a Team around the Family (TAF).

The Focus Family ethos is outlined in the Family Outcome Plan Guidance (185.76 kb PDF)

Research has shown that families most likely to benefit from co-ordinated support have multiple challenges such as domestic abuse, poor school attendance, involved with crime and poor health.

If you recognise your own family as meeting any of the criteria below, or you are working with a family who meet criteria, please read the information to help guide you through the process section for more advice.

If you would like to know more about the Focus Family work please go to the About Focus Family 

If you would like more support please see the provided range of useful websites.

Theme 3: Adults Out of Work or at Risk of Financial Exclusion and Young People at risk of Worklessness
Indicator/Family Problem Identified IssuesSignificant Progress (and/or outcome measure)Sustained Progress
An adult in receipt of out of work benefits

JSA claimants move into work.

Adult on out of work benefits other than JSA achieves recognised vocational qualification or significant relevant work experience, traineeship, volunteering, significant progress or completes an apprenticeship

Universal Credit claimants meet earnings threshold

JSA claimants must sustain work for 26 weeks

Other claimants must sustain outcomes for 13 weeks

An adult who is claiming Universal Credit and subject to work related conditions
A young person who is not in education, training or employmentYoung person is engaged in employment, training or educationAttendance is for at least 13 weeks
A young person who is about to leave school, has no/few qualifications and no planned education, training or employmentYoung person attends education, training or employment on leaving schoolAttendance is for at least 13 weeks
Parents and families nominated by professionals as being at significant risk of financial exclusion.  This may include those with problematic/unmanageable levels and forms of debt and those with significant rent arrears

An income and debt re-payment plan is in place and judged to be satisfactorily maintained

There is no escalation in sanctions

At least 13 weeks

The Focus Family team supported a family where Mum and Dad both have mild/moderate learning difficulties. There are 2 children in household, one of which receives Disability Living Allowance (DLA).
The Focus Family Employment Adviser (FFEA) first got involved to offer support to the allocated family worker, to ensure correct benefits were in place and to begin exploring if work was an achievable goal for either adult.

A range of benefits were in payment, Dad was claiming Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Mum was claiming Carers Allowance (CA) as main carer for Child who receives DLA. Child Tax Credit (CTC) was in payment, including the Disabled Child Element, and both Housing Benefit (HB) and Council Tax Reduction (CTR) were also in payment.

Having gained consent to share information, the FFEA worked alongside the family worker, to assist with budgeting issues and generally trying to improve money management and organisational skills. This continues to be work in progress, but nevertheless forward steps have been taken.

As part of the Focus Family work, the Employment Adviser discussed work options and how work would affect the various benefits in payment. A Better Off in Work Calculation was completed and different scenarios discussed. The figures showed that financially it was worthwhile either adult looking for work, as long as it was for a minimum of 24 hours per week.

Within a few weeks mum was successful in finding work in a local care home, and the Employment Advisers visited the family at home to assist in the transition (due to learning difficulties). Arrangements were made for Working Tax Credit (WTC) to be claimed, and the CA was transferred into Dad's name, as mum was earning too much to continue to claim CA. Extended payments of HB were also checked to make sure couple were eligible.

The Employment Advisers did a detailed breakdown of what each adult was claiming/earning, including expected payment dates, when Extended HB payments would end, and explained how much they would need to start to pay towards Rent and Council Tax and from what date. This proved to be an invaluable help, as the family worker was able to use that information to support the family in the first weeks of work.

Subsequent support has been provided for example when Mum's job ended, after an unsuccessful trail period. At that time, Dad was looking for work, having seen the advantages to the family, so Employment Advisers made arrangements for mum to claim Income Support (IS) as a Carer, whilst dad continued to look for work.

Dad is now working with WTC back in payment for the family and mum continuing to receive CA.

The joint work approach improved the financial situation for the family without compromising their entitlement to benefit support.