Future rounds of Hyndburn’s Household Support Fund to help residents cope with the cost if living crisis should involve the issuing of shopping vouchers for borough businesses a councillor has suggested.

The idea was floated by Great Harwood Labour Councillor Scott Brerton after a meeting of the authority's communities and wellbeing scrutiny committee.

Lyndsey Sims,chief executive of the Hyndburn Leisure Trust, which administers the fund on behalf of Hyndburn Council, presented a report to councillors which set out how the first three rounds of the funding had supported residents in need across the borough.

This included help with food, utilities, broadband, white goods and housing costs, as well as a wide range of advice and guidance.

Overton ward's Cllr Brerton, whilst warmly welcoming the report, asked for one issue to be kept under review - the use of supermarket vouchers.

He said: “I accept that the current use of supermarket vouchers is quite effective and helps reduce the stigma of asking for help when compared to being given food parcels, the contents of which you have no choice over.

“However, these vouchers are for Aldi and Tesco, and people are unable to use these in local shops and market stalls that often represent better value for residents.

"More than £500,000 has been spent on food support over the past few rounds of the Household Support Fund and a significant amount of this has been Aldi and Tesco vouchers, which represents money leaving the Hyndburn economy.

"I’m asking that this policy is reviewed for further rounds and options explored that may help people be able to shop local and support local businesses."

Ms Sims agreed to the request to keep the use of vouchers under review and explore other options.

Cllr Peter Britcliffe, acting leader of Hyndburn Council, said: “We are really proud of the successful administration of the Household Support Fund and thank the Hyndburn Leisure Trust team for all their hard work reaching residents in need with this vital funding.

"It is important that we administer the funding in line with the government requirements, in the best and easiest way for residents to access, and also give value for money of the service.

“Throughout the several rounds of Household Support Fund already delivered we have adapted and evolved following evaluation and customer feedback, this will continue going forward and we always welcome ideas that can then be looked into.”