DOZENS of vulnerable families across Lancashire have been left distressed after vouchers received over the Easter weekend to help with the cost of food and other essentials failed to work.

One county mother said she and fellow parents felt like they had received a ‘slap in the face’.

The tokens, worth up to £80, were distributed as part of the Covid Winter Grant Scheme - government-funded programme under which local authorities make discretionary payments to those in need of support during the pandemic.

They are on top of vouchers supplied during school holidays to families of children who usually receive free school meals which are unaffected.

Lancashire County Council has said that it is investigating the issue and that no families will lose out as they have until June 29 to use the vouchers.

The winter scheme was recently extended by the government, with the final round of vouchers landing on doormats in recent days

The authority (responsible for distributing the vouchers in 12 boroughs including Hyndburn, Ribble Valley, Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale) has said only a small number of families had been affected and none would lose out as there are another 10 days to use the vouchers.

Families in Blackburn with Darwen are not affected as it provided vouchers for the borough’s two markets instead.

Lancashire mum -of-three Trina Lawrie took to social media when she discovered that the 16-digit code required to redeem the token was missing a number and found she was not alone.

She said she had been in contact with 60 families since Saturday who have either been sent shortened codes – or even full-length ones not recognised by the website through which they most be submitted.

Ms Lawrie said the new vouchers were unexpected.

She said: “They came out of the blue and many families will have seen them as a way of getting out of a hole. It was almost like we had had £80 dangled in front of us and then told that we couldn’t have it. It felt like a slap in the face.”

A Lancashire County Council spokeswoman said: “We’ve been told some people who are eligible for Covid Winter Grant payments have had a problem accessing their vouchers. We are very sorry. The number of people affected is small, but we appreciate how worrying it will be. We are investigating this urgently. We are confident the issue will be resolved soon.”

The Local Democracy Reporting Service has been unable to contact Edenred, the company understood to have provided the vouchers.

Deputy leader of the opposition Labour group, John Fillis, who raised the issue over the weekend, said the problem appeared to be “widespread” – but that it was unclear whether there had been an administrative error or a problem with the ‘redemption system’ used by the voucher code supplier.