A councillor is leading a campaign that is urging the government to give more financial help families in Bolton and Bury throughout winter.

Moorside Labour Cllr Kevin Peel, alongside the Co-operative Party, are calling on the government to double the Household Support Fund (HSF) this winter in a bid to help families manage as energy bills are once again set to increase in October.

The Department for Work and Pensions introduced the HSF in October 2021, and it has since been extended to September this year.

The funds go towards providing a range of services, including household support, free school meals and helping people who have reached state pension age.

Office for National Statistics data shows that the wages of the average worker in Bury and Bolton have dropped by 3.7 per cent – around £1,000 – over the last 12 months, falling at the fastest rate in over a decade.

READ: Shadow Cabinet member backs debts service fight in Bolton and Bury

At the same time, inflation is expected to hit 12 per cent and average energy bills will reach nearly £300 per month this autumn.

Cllr Peel is calling on residents from the two boroughs to back the campaign, by adding their names to an open letter addressed to their MPs, in the hopes that they will take the matter to parliament.

He said: “Rising prices, collapsing wages and soaring energy and fuel costs have left an estimated 32,500 families across Bury and Bolton in serious financial difficultly – and worse is yet to come, with energy bills set to hit nearly £300 a month for a typical household this October.

“The government must act now to increase support for those most in need before it is too late.

“I’ve launched a campaign calling on the government to double the Household Support Fund this winter – and I need your help to pressure our local MPs to back it.”

He added: “The number of people seeking help from Citizens Advice – where I am proud to serve as a trustee – because they cannot afford both food and energy has more than tripled in a year.

“Single parents, renters, people with disabilities, and families with three or more children are the groups facing the most difficulties. 

"This is worse than any point during the pandemic, yet the government has no plan to increase support for those most in need.”

In response, a Government Spokesperson said: “We extended the Household Support Fund so that targeted support for both families with children and pensioners continues to be available, as well as allowing some room for local discretion for the rest of the money.

“It is just one way that we are supporting people with the cost of living and is part of a wider, £37bn package of measures.

"This includes protecting millions of the most vulnerable families with at least £1,200 of direct payments, starting with the £326 Cost of Living payment, which has already been issued to more than seven million low income households.

“We are also saving the typical employee over £330 a year through a tax cut, putting an average of £1,000 more per year into the pockets of workers on Universal Credit and all households will receive £400 this winter through the Energy Bill Support Scheme.”