A PROTEST against cuts to Universal Credit took place at Irvine beach on Friday [September 10]

Anti-poverty campaigners and local community groups joined trade union members from Unite to protest against the £20 a week Universal Credit cut at the end of September.

The uplift to Universal Credit was introduced at the start of the pandemic to support families in need and is marked to be reduced at the same time as the workplace furlough scheme is to be wound down.

Campaigners argue for the uplift to remain to help support families who have been disproportionally affected by the pandemic due to their socio-economical status.

Naomi Mackay, a recipient of Universal Credit, explained what this cut will mean for her:

She said: “I didn’t choose this, no one does, but I can’t sleep and I am constantly worried about what tomorrow will bring.


Unite Protest

Unite Protest


“Living like this brings me to dark places and it’s so hard to imagine things getting even harder after the cut.”

Joe Cullinane, Leader of North Ayrshire Council, supported the protest and said: “Here we have 10,265 people on Universal Credit and that means around £200,000 coming out of the local economy on a weekly basis.

“For one of the richest countries in the world to be taking £20 a week from its poorest citizens defies description.”

The protest featured a sand sculpture, wearing the £20 uplift as a life belt, and was washed away by the tide during Friday afternoon as a symbolic gesture. Activists say that changes to the pandemic uplift is ‘removing the lifebelt’ for people when they need it most.

Keith Stoddart, Chair of the West of Scotland Unite Community Branch said: “There is clearly such widespread anger at this decision.

“We opted for the lifebelt being washed away as we felt this symbolises what this means to many people.

“The uplift is just that – a lifebelt which has allowed people to put food on the table or given the time of year to get new uniforms for kids returning to school – and to have this removed will see many people going under.”

Campaigners also argue that the impact of this cut will be felt by many for years to come.