Bolton Council had to spend above its allocated share of money to support people in “urgent need” last year.

The money was given out as part of the Discretionary Housing Payments scheme, which allows councils to cover shortfalls in people’s housing benefits or Universal Credit.

According to the Department for Work and Pensions, Bolton Council spent £517,966 this way over the last year, above the allocated budget of £459,755.

A spokesperson for Bolton Council said: “In line with normal practice by many other local authorities, we have spent slightly more than our allocated Discretionary Housing Payment budget to support residents in urgent need.

“The additional four per cent is covered by other sources of government funding.”

The Bolton News: The payments are to help support people in need of housingThe payments are to help support people in need of housing (Image: Newsquest)

Bolton was far from alone in spending over its allocated amounts.

Across England and Wales local authorities spent an added 15 per cent of their combined allocation, with more than a third of of councils overspending their budget by more than five per cent.

Just over one in ten councils across England and Wales spent less than 95 per cent of their budget.

According to housing campaigners, the freezing of housing benefits in recent years means that families all over the country are “desperate” for help to afford rents.

This is especially acute in areas like Bolton that have been affected by high levels of deprivation.

Shelter chief executive Polly Neate said: "If the government really wants to tackle the housing emergency, the Chancellor must urgently unfreeze housing benefit to help families pay their rent.”

She added: "But the only long-term solution to the housing emergency is for the government to invest in a new generation of genuinely affordable social homes, with rents tied to local incomes."

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But the government says that the money it is spending is helping to support people in cases like these.

A spokesperson said: "We are set to spend over £30 billion on housing support this year, on top of the significant cost of living help worth around £3,300 per household.

"It is for councils to decide how to allocate funding and manage their budgets, and they can top up government funding up to two and a half times using their own funds."