HUNDREDS of troubled families in Barnsley are to get extra help in a bid to get children off the streets and get adults back to work.

Barnsley Council has signed up for the government's 'Troubled Families' scheme which could see them net a £2.5 million bonus if it manages to turn around the lives of the borough's most challenging families.

It means up to 645 families will get extra help to get children off the streets and into school, reduce youth crime and antisocial behaviour and put adults on a path back to work.

Communities secretary Eric Pickles said: "We cannot go on spending so much taxpayers' money on such a small amount of families without turning their lives around once and for all. This programme is a unique opportunity to do so."

Barnsley's Coun Tim Cheetham said it was fantastic news, as about 80 per cent of the children's services budget in Barnsley was spend on about five per cent of families.

The new scheme works on a 'payment by results basis', meaning the government will pay the council up to £4,000 per family if it tackles problems of high rates of truancy, youth crime and antisocial behaviour or puts parents 'on a path back to work'.

Coun Cheetham said: "It could potentially mean millions to Barnsley. It's a drop in the ocean compared to the £60m cuts we're faced with, but these areas we are talking about are the areas we just can't cut anyway, so any additional funding is obviously welcome.

"This is an opportunity for agencies to work together to build on what we are already doing to turn around the lives of families with additional needs, including those involved in crime and antisocial behaviour, those out of work and not ready for work, and children who are not in school."

The government says the families targeted by this scheme cost the tax payer about £9bn a year nationally.