Councillors condemned a support scheme as short-sighted as they confirmed the allocation of the most recent round of the Household Support Fund.

It comes after the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, confirmed a six-month extension to the support scheme as a part of the Spring Budget.

The Household Support Fund appeared to be at an end after two-and-a-half-years and four rounds of funding for local authorities but the announcement arrived at the last minute after persistent pressure on The Treasury from these local authorities and other organisations.

Bolton Council got £2,780,000 for April 1 to September 30 but councillors condemned the support scheme as short-sighted as they confirmed its allocation at a meeting at the town hall.

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Nick Peel, the council leader, said: "It is a knee-jerk reaction to continue it for another six months. It delays it for another six months and we are going to be back in the same situation.

"An opportunity was missed but we are where we are and we will alleviate poverty as best as we can for the next six months and we will hold our breath for what happens afterwards."

Of the £2,780,000, more than £1,000,000 is to be spent on supermarket vouchers for those with children on free school meals. There are hundreds of thousands of pounds for council services like the Care and Repair Service and the Money Skills Service while charities are allowed to bid for a share of a quarter of a million pounds towards their own work.

Martin Donaghy, the cabinet member for children's services, said the support scheme amounted to "tinkering" in an assessment which appeared to be shared by both the leading group and opposition groups.

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Martyn Cox, the leader of the Conservatives, said: "We have discussed this over the years and one of the things we have discussed is trying to invest in the things that will give us a long-term return for families. 

"If you give someone a voucher then they'll spend it and that's it. A better example is the long-term repair of a boiler [via the Care and Repair Service] that will give someone a long-term return over 20 years."

Roger Hayes, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, said: "It shows a terrible lack of forward planning by the government to be bringing this in so late. 

"Anybody would think there is an election coming."

This article was written by Jack Tooth. To contact him, email or follow @JTRTooth on Twitter.