Rashford says honorary degree ‘bittersweet’ after UK benefits cut

London, Oct. 8, (PA Media/dpa/GNA) – Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford said it felt “bittersweet” collecting his honorary degree for tackling child poverty the week Britain's Universal Credit (benefit) uplift was retracted.

The England international used his speech late Thursday at the University of Manchester ceremony at Old Trafford to highlight how the Government’s cut meant “millions of families across the UK lost a lifeline."

At 23-years-old, Rashford became the youngest recipient of an honorary doctorate from the university, rewarding his campaign against child poverty.

Speaking at the ceremony donned in a red, maroon and gold graduation gown with a doctorate cap, Rashford also urged politicians to get “out into communities” like his home town of Wythenshawe in south Manchester.

“I’m here to receive my honorary doctorate for my work around child poverty," he said.

“Yesterday, millions of families across the UK lost a lifeline and a means of staying afloat – a move that could see child poverty rise to one in three children. For that reason, today is bittersweet.

The University of Manchester announced Rashford would receive the accolade in July last year but postponed the in-person ceremony because of the pandemic.

On presenting Rashford with his degree, university vice-chancellor Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell said: “Marcus is an exceptional young man who continues to demonstrate a sense of community and generosity that goes well beyond his years.

“His ongoing charity work and high-profile campaigns not only help millions of people across the country but inspire many more to try and make a difference themselves. Long may it continue.”

Rashford waged a high-profile campaign last year to persuade the Government to provide free meals to vulnerable youngsters in England throughout the school holidays during the coronavirus pandemic, forcing Prime Minister Boris Johnson into a U-turn.

The 20 pounds (27 dollars) per week increase to Universal Credit introduced to support people on low incomes during the pandemic is being withdrawn.