The pandemic drove down life opportunities for young and already disadvantaged people, say 70 per cent of Brits, as experts warned poverty puts the public’s faith in Boris Johnson at “serious risk”.
More than six of every 10 people (63 per cent) said the Covid-19 crisis widened the gap between rich and poor people, according to a study by charity Turn2us, with redundancies, lost work hours and increased living costs pushing people deeper into hardship.
“The prime minister can be in absolutely no doubt about the momentous task he faces in ‘levelling-up’ left behind areas of the UK,” said Sara Willcocks, head of external affairs for the charity.
“The faith many voters placed in him to deliver improved regional equality seems to be at serious risk.”
Young people are among those hit hardest by pandemic redundancies and income cuts. The Turn2us figures — collected in a YouGov survey of 2,000 adults — highlighted the knock-on effects Covid-19 poverty, with more than a third (36 per cent) of 18 to 24-year-olds having their plans to save up for a house deposit dashed during lockdown.
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“The coronavirus has clearly had a significant impact on social mobility and the government must invest in opportunities and remove barriers if it is serious about giving everyone a fair opportunity to thrive in life,” Willcocks added.
For 36 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds the Covid-19 crisis meant having to put on hold their plans to move out of their parents’ home.
Twenty eight per cent of people in the same age range had hopes of going to university changed.
“We urge Number 10 to reverse the planned cut to universal credit in September if they want to reverse this worrying trend.”
The benefit will be cut by £20 per week — or £1,040 per year — for around six million people when ministers remove the universal credit increase introduced at the start of the pandemic.
The move will leave around 1.38 million under-25s worse off, and is planned to go ahead despite widespread calls from campaigners and MPs to make the temporary increase permanent.
Government support so far is “not enough” to mitigate young people’s emotional, financial and employment worries as the country emerges from lockdown, the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Youth Affairs said earlier this year.
“Young people as a generation have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic,” said Lloyd Russell-Moyle, chair of the APPG and Labour Co-op MP for Kemptown, who said the economic and social impact of the pandemic on young people needs “urgent investigation”.
“What we have found is that young people are in dire need of support at almost every juncture,” he added. “We note the government’s goodwill in providing some support, but it is not enough.”
The prevalence of precarious work leaves young people in poverty and at an increased risk of homelessness. The number of young people turning to homelessness services increased by 60 per cent in lockdown, YMCA Downslink said.
Hundreds of thousands of people are at risk of losing their homes right now. One UK household is being made homeless every three-and-a-half hours.
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