Local councils keeping millions intended for poorest people, report says

Authorities in most deprived areas spend less than half of money allocated to them for people living in extreme poverty

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Local councils in the poorest parts of England have held back millions of pounds in Government money that was meant to provide emergency support to people living in extreme poverty, a damming report has concluded.

An analysis by the National Audit Office found that authorities in the most deprived areas of the country spent less than half the money allocated to them to meet urgent needs from residents for food, heating and clothing.

As a result many residents were forced to turn to charities providing services, such as food banks for support, while councils kept the money that was not spent.

Alongside the report the Work and Pension Select Committee warned that there was now “postcode lottery” safety net across the country that could result in vulnerable people being pushed into “severe hardship and destitution”.

On average the richest councils in England spent 62 per cent of their allocation while the poorest 25 per cent spent just 45 per cent of the money they were given.

The Local Government Association admitted the “range and scope of support available does vary from place to place” but blamed this on funding shortfalls.