The head of Bury and Bolton’s Citizens Advice has urged the government to rethink “devastating” cuts to Universal Credit.

Cuts are planned to the benefit in April of this year despite a huge increase in the amount of people in Bolton and Bury seeking help over the last year.

Staff and volunteers at Citizens Advice Bolton and Bury helped 4,577 people with Universal Credit since March last year.

Around 70 per cent of those seeking the advice across Bolton and Bury on benefits had never contacted the charity before.

The charity said that many needing support from the benefits system have lost their job or suffered a drop in income as a result of the pandemic.

Citizens Advice has continued to provide one-to-one support throughout the pandemic, believes families could be pushed into more hardship.

This is predicted if the £20 a week Universal Credit uplift ends, as planned by the government in April.

The charity also said the number of people claiming Universal Credit has risen by an average of 84 per cent since the pandemic started.

According to Citizens Advice, for households across Bury and Bolton, the loss of £20 a week is equivalent to six-and-a-half days of energy or almost three days of food.

Richard Wilkinson, their chief executive, said: “We support people every day whose lives have been turned upside down by this pandemic.

"For many of them, Universal Credit is the lifeline that has helped pay the bills and put food on the table.

“But households across Bury and Bolton now face the devastating prospect of a £20 a week cut to their benefits in just a few short months.

“With a tough outlook in the jobs market, we’re urging the government to continue doing the right thing and maintain the Universal Credit uplift.”