A Liverpool charity chief has hit out at 'catastrophic' plans to slash Universal Credit in a move that has been branded as an 'act of war'.
A £20 a week uplift was introduced in April 2020 and intended as a temporary measure during the coronavirus pandemic to provide extra security to those in receipt of the in-work benefit.
There are around 60,000 people in receipt of Universal Credit across Liverpool who will face a cut when the uplift is scrapped this October.
The Liverpool Echo spoke to Lynn Lock, Chief Executive of the Liverpool-based youth employment charity I Am Moore, who hit out at the plans.
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Lynn told the Echo: "Universal Credit has provided a lifeline to young people as they start to navigate an ever-changing world of employment, through no fault of their own.
"Brexit and the pandemic have created a perfect storm in which prices are rising, and living costs are spiralling.
"To lose £20 per week from an already tight budget is catastrophic and this needs to be readdressed to prevent the increased hardship, anxiety, and mental and physical health problems that will result.
"Overlay this with the rise in National Insurance contributions for young people starting their first job, and the Government is creating a generation where aspiration and ambition are a thing of the past."
To understand the full impact the cut will have on young people, the Echo spoke to those it would affect.
Alfie Kearns, a former recipient of Universal Credit who found employment through the Government's Kickstart scheme, said: "I meet hundreds of young people who have invested years of their lives and money they don’t have into an education that would earn them a profession that contributes to our society and supports themselves as hard-working individuals, they are now Universal Credit 'customers'.
"I believe that the Universal Credit uplift of £20 was a step in the right direction to support those in need with funds that are liveable, reasonable, and humane.
"Our city and its gorgeous people have never changed and neither have the challenges we face, they are just packaged differently, but we have overcome these obstacles many times before.
"We have made real progress with the Kickstart scheme, for example, opening up a new path of hope and direction for our young people's future, the cut in support now only makes that road harder to travel.
"The reversion of such steps alienates the workforce of the future and puts the Universal Credit lifeboat at risk of sinking its passengers, the very people its purpose is to protect.".
As the North has been significantly impacted by the pandemic, Christopher Megrath, 26, Liverpool, who is currently on Universal Credit, said that young people will struggle with their mental health due to the cut.
"The Government is taking money away from Universal Credit and not putting it into mental health resources. It's just a constant cycle of not giving people what they need," he said.
"The people I know on Universal Credit are struggling. It means when this cut happens, we're going to have to work even harder.
"I know the Work and Pensions Secretary Theresa Coffey mentioned people should work more hours, but, like many young people, I'm on a zero-hours contract, and it's not viable for the majority of people.
"It's just another hurdle that young people will face."
On Thursday (September 17), Ministers earlier defended the termination of the uplift, saying it was only ever designed to be a temporary response to the pandemic.
Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey said: "In the Budget earlier this year, recognising the country was still under restrictions, the Chancellor set out that we would continue the Covid financial support until the autumn, several months after the country came out of lockdown.
"As our economy continues to recover it is right that we are investing in jobs and skills to boost pay, prospects and prosperity for people right across the UK as part of our plan to level up and build back better.”