BURY was among North West councils that collectively spent £5.9 million in the first six months of 2012/13 to help people hit by welfare reforms.

Figures show that the money spent so far by Bury Council was £53,939 from an allocation of £324,003, meaning that £270,063 remains unspent by the local authority to date.

This was from a pot of cash totalling £14.6 million — demonstrating there is still plenty of cash available for people who need help adjusting to changes.

Minister for Employment Esther McVey said: “There is a significant amount of cash still available to councils to help people who need extra support to make the transition to the new system for claiming benefits — despite scare stories that support would not be sufficient.

“It is encouraging that the vast majority of councils appear to be spending the money wisely and ensuring it goes to the people who need it most. But the cash is there to be used and we urge people who need an extra bit of help to contact their council.”

The Government tripled the Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) fund last year to £180 million to help people adapt to reforms including the removal of the spare room subsidy and the introduction of the benefit cap.

The removal of the spare room subsidy ensures housing benefit pays for the size of property a household needs.

The Government says it aims to free up space for the 375,000 families in England and Wales, who live in overcrowded accommodation while up to one million rooms go spare in under-occupied social housing.

On top of this, there are approximately 1.8 million households on the housing waiting list in England.

Additional funding of £20 million was announced in the summer and councils are being encouraged to bid for the extra cash if they could demonstrate they may need extra help.

The minister added: “We are taking the steps that are necessary to fix the broken welfare system.

“We want to create a fair welfare state for the future that rewards people who want to work while providing a safety net for those who fall on hard times.”