Deep cuts to welfare budgets across Bolton may now “not take place” to try and blunt the impact of losing £5.5million yearly for vulnerable people.

This comes after Bolton Council held public talks ahead of making cuts of nearly £10million.

But this week town hall heard that with the government set to remove £5.5million years for Bolton’s Household Support Fund, the council may try to blunt the impact by not cutting welfare.

Council leader Nick Peel said: “I am minded to recommend to full council in February that the proposed cuts to local welfare provision not take place.”

He added: “As members will know, we left a contingency in the budget of £600,000 for this eventuality.

“That will be my proposal and more details will be available at a future cabinet meeting.”

The Bolton News: The meeting took place at Bolton Town HallThe meeting took place at Bolton Town Hall (Image: Bolton Council)

Cllr Peel had been taking questions at a full meeting of Bolton Council.

The authority’s public consultation on where £9.1million cuts will be made concluded earlier in January, with details on where the axe will fall to be made public soon after.

A previous report put before the council detailed plans for slashing budgets which include dimming streetlights and only collecting paper and cardboard waste every four weeks.

But news came last autumn that the government’s Household Support Fund, which supplies £5.5million a year to Bolton to support poorer families, is likely to end from April 2024.

Since then, Cllr Peel said the government has not been clear about how impact of these cuts will be mitigated and so will call on the council to avoid its own welfare cuts instead.

He said: “To be honest, statements from the treasury are deliberately vague on it.”

He added: “To withdraw the funding in one fell swoop is not only inefficient, its uneconomical.”

Cllr Peel had been taking questions from Cllr Sean Fielding, of Breightmet, on the future of the Household Support Fund.

Cllr Fielding said this was all the more significant given the ongoing cost of living crisis.

He said: “You like to think that against that backdrop at the very least the government would provide certainty on Household Support Fund, a fund designed to help those most in need.”

But the Department for Work and Pensions has said previously that officials are reviewing responses to the cost-of-living crisis.

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A spokesperson said: “We have invested over £2 billion into the fund over the last two years with almost £800 million already paid to families with children to help with the cost of living.

“The fund is available up until March 2024 and it comes on top of a record cost of living support package.

“This includes increasing benefits, increasing State Pension and increasing Local Housing Allowance to help renters on Housing Benefit or Universal Credit save £800 on housing costs.

“We have halved inflation to help everyone's money go further and cut taxes for hardworking people at the Autumn Statement.”