PROPOSED cutbacks in Lancashire County Council's welfare rights service changes have been scaled back by two-thirds.

The move, which follows a public consultation in which strong objections were raised, has been welcomed by the Labour opposition at the authority.

The county council's Conservative administration originally proposed to pare the service to the bone of only assisting legal challenges against benefit decisions, including representation at Appeal Tribunals.

This would have led to the scrapping of assistance to vulnerable residents trying to negotiate their way through the benefit and tax system, the running of targeted benefit take up campaigns and providing support following referrals from health professionals.

Thursday's Cabinet meeting of the authority - which provides the service in 12 boroughs including Hyndburn, Burnley, Ribble Valley, Pendle and Rossendale - agreed changes to the original proposal, reducing the proposed savings from £380,000 to £101,250.

The revised service will still assist people with appeals, improving uptake of benefits and providing advice and training for local organisations.

However, residents will now be referred for other welfare rights support to alternative county services such as Shared Lives, social care, reablement and to partner organisations,.

Cllr Shaun Turner, county wellbeing boss, said: "After people shared their views, we made changes to the original proposal.

"The consultation showed that there is no other service locally that offers the level of expertise and advice that welfare rights does, including supporting the most complex cases to tribunal.

"The service will operate at a reduced capacity, but we will continue to assist people with appeals, improving uptake of benefits, and providing advice and training for local organisations. "

Cllr Julie Gibson, Labour's economic development spokesoman, said: “We need services such as these to ensure that people are not left out of pocket and potentially pushed into poverty. The original proposals risked losing this vital knowledge and expertise but thanks to “people power” we have been able to ensure vital elements of the service still remain.”