Hundreds more young people in the Cotswolds are claiming Universal Credit than before the coronavirus pandemic, new figures reveal.

Department for Work and Pensions statistics show 821 people aged 16-24 in the Cotswolds were on Universal Credit as of August 13.

This was more than double the 347 who were claiming the benefit in early March, before the country went into lockdown, bringing large parts of the economy to a halt.

The figures include people in work and on a low income or those not working because of health or caring commitments, alongside those who are unemployed and searching for a job.

Cotswold’s young people joined the ranks of 71,188 others in the age group across the South West who were seeking support in August, up from 35,884 in March.

Across Great Britain, the figure almost doubled to 938,000 over the first five months of the Covid-19 crisis, with every area seeing an increase in the number of young Universal Credit claimants over the period.

Separate Office for National Statistics figures show rising unemployment has hit young people the hardest, with the number of 16 to 24-year-olds in employment across the UK dropping by more than 150,000 in the three months to July.

Ashley Seager, co-founder of the Intergenerational Foundation, said: “These statistics demonstrate the intergenerational unfairness in the Government's approach to Covid.

“Our youngest workers are now starting to suffer a massive blow to their incomes and job prospects.”

He said the Government urgently needs to boost funding for the £2 billion Kickstart scheme, which subsidises work placements for young people facing long-term unemployment, while encouraging older people to shield and re-opening the economy as quickly as possible.

Mr Seager added: “Afterall, it is the younger generation who will have to pay the bill for protecting older generations for decades to come."

Minister for employment Mims Davies said: “We recognise that the pandemic has been difficult for many people who are worried about their incomes and that’s why our £30 billion plan for jobs is aimed at protecting, supporting and creating jobs and it’s welcome news that there is some recovery in vacancies.”