A HEALTH watchdog in Bolton has denied misusing tens of thousands of pounds in public funding.

Last year Healthwatch Bolton, now know as VOICE:local, received a £49,120 grant when it took over the running of local services from the now- dissolved Healthwatch Wigan.

However, the firm behind the liquidation has raised concerns that the money was spent contrary to the terms it was awarded by Wigan Metropolitan Borough Council.

In a statement by VOICE:local it stated that the registered charity’s financial advisors and the council were "satisfied that the funds have been spent in accordance with the grant restrictions".

Chairman Alice Tligui said the group had now lodged a complaint against the liquidators Focus Insolvency for 'misrepresenting the 'restrictions'.

She said: "We have a lot of issues with the way this has been recorded.

"As far as those monitoring the funds are concerned, there is no problem."

Bolton won the contract to run the Wigan and Leigh Healthwatch services in July, 2016 in a tender process.

As the funds were liquidated, it was agreed to pass the money on to Bolton and Wigan Council has confirmed that the agreed stipulations were for 'establishing a fully functioning Healthwatch in Wigan'.

Joanne Willmott, assistant director for provider management and market development at the council added: "Wigan Council has considered these allegations and found them to be unsubstantiated.

"The final account of the joint liquidators concluded the company’s affairs are fully wound up.

"Wigan and Leigh Healthwatch is performing well, ensuring the voices of local people inform health and social care reform across the borough."

Healthwatch is the independent consumer champion created to gather and represent the views of the public in health and social care planning.

Healthwatch England said it understood that the liquidator had escalated concerns that have been raised about the contract handover process to the Local Government Ombudsman and the Charity Commission, amongst others, and was seeking a speedy decision.

VOICE:local is now inviting the public people in Wigan and Leigh to take part in engagement activities or becoming members of its organisation.