The Tory UK Government’s benefit sanctions regime breaches the principles of dignity and respect. The SNP continue to call on the UK Government to scrap their current regime.
The National Audit Office report found that the Tory sanctions regime costs more than double the money that the DWP say its saves. The costs of administering the cruel system is £285 million a year, and is on the back of the £132 million removed from JSA and ESA payments. When the report was released the SNP reiterated their call to the UK Government to scrap their current regime, which is a deeply flawed, ideological approach to claimant conditionality and is simply not fit for purpose.
The SNP are taking action where we can to oppose the Tories sanction regime. Last year the SNP’s Mhairi Black MP brought forward a Private Members Bill in Westminster which would require Jobcentre staff to consider whether a person is at risk of homelessness or suffer from mental ill health before them impose a sanction. This ask was strengthened by the fact that in February this year the UK Parliament Department of Work and Pensions Committee made a very similar recommendation to the UK Government.
The SNP Government in Scotland is building a social security system with dignity and respect at the core. The SNP Government in Scotland will do all it can, working with welfare rights officers and others, to reduce the number of people who are sanctioned and help them when they are. This includes continuing to make explicit in our Scottish Welfare Fund Guidance that people on benefits who are sanctioned can apply for a Crisis Grant.
My SNP colleagues and I will continue to call on the UK Government to urgently review their punitive benefit sanctions regime.