Marcus Rashford says collecting degree for child poverty work is 'bittersweet' after benefits cut

Marcus Rashford receiving his honorary degree Credit: Manchester United/The University of Manchester

Football star Marcus Rashford has said it felt "bittersweet" collecting his honorary degree for tackling child poverty the day after the Universal Credit uplift was retracted.

The England player used his speech 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".

Rashford has received the accolade from The University of Manchester at a special ceremony at Old Trafford which had been delayed because of the pandemic.

The prestigious award, the highest honour the university can bestow, is for Rashford's ongoing charity work and well-publicised campaign against child poverty off the field, as well as his outstanding sporting achievements on the pitch.

Marcus Rashford shakes hands with manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Credit: Oli Scarff/PA Wire/PA Images

Rashford, 23, is the youngest recipient of an honorary degree in the history of the university.

He joins fellow Manchester United club legends Sir Alex Ferguson and Sir Bobby Charlton, who have also been honoured by the University in the past.

Sir Alex Ferguson joined the player’s friends and family to see him receive his award from university president and vice-chancellor Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell.

Rashford referred to the end of the £20 per week uplift to Universal Credit in his acceptance speech.

Rashford said Covid can no longer be used as an excuse and called for representatives to get into communities like his to see first-hand "the true measure of struggle."

The player 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.

He has backed several child food poverty incentives and became the youngest person to top the Sunday Times Giving List by raising £20 million in donations from supermarkets for groups tackling the issue.

Prof Rothwell described the footballer as an "exceptional young man."