LABOUR is urging Lancashire residents to object to changes in the county council’s Welfare Rights Service in a new consultation.

The authority’s Conservative administration wants to limit its advice provision to assisting legal challenges against benefit decisions, including representation at Appeal Tribunals.

This would scrap assisting vulnerable customers to negotiate their way through the benefit and tax system, running targeted benefit take up campaigns and providing support following referrals from health professionals. The consultation started yesterday and runs until June 9.

Cllr Julie Gibson, the Labour group’s economic development spokeswoman, said: “Having previously worked within a welfare rights setting, I know how vital the welfare rights service is in helping people to navigate their way through the complex benefit system.

“When Universal Credit is being rolled out across Lancashire, plunging many into debt, we need these services to ensure people are not left out of pocket and potentially pushed into poverty. I urge people to make their voices heard.”

County council leader Cllr Geoff Driver said: “We will listen to what people say in the consultation exercise and make changes where necessary. This is about ensuring the authority’s money for welfare rights advice is well spent where it is needed.”