Benefit sanctions are 'hindrance not a help'

BENEFIT sanctions can hinder not help people get back into work, according to a committee of MSPs.

Loading Comments

The UK Department of Work and Pensions has been heavily criticised in a report released today which said the sanctions system needs to be reviewed.

The Scottish Parliament Welfare Reform Committee said people should be given warnings before they lose benefit payments and must only be used as a last resort.

The committee had taken evidence from a range of organisations and individuals on the impact of sanctions and heard from a senior DWP official who said people were thankful of the "jolt" sanctions gave them.

The report, which was backed by four SNP MSPs and two Labour MSPs, made several recommendations, including a written warning at the first breach of benefit conditions before it is escalated to a sanction, to act as a deterrent not punishment. The Conservative MSP on the Committee, Alex Johnstone, dissented from the report.

The reports wants clearer explanations so claimants are fully aware of the requirements and consequences.

Ten working day notice should be given before a sanction is applied and greater levels of support and discretion should be applied.

Committee Convener Michael McMahon, Labour MSP said: "When Neil Couling from the DWP came to Committee and said people welcomed the jolt of being sanctioned, the committee was shocked.

"Our evidence says quite the opposite; being sanctioned leaves people with not enough money to make ends meet, certainly not enough to go out job hunting.

"How many of us could manage if we did not get paid one week, without any notice or often explanation?

"This demonstrates once again the enormous gulf between reality and DWP thinking."

The MSPs concluded benefit sanctions in their current form can lead to destitution.

Deputy Convener Jamie Hepburn SNP MSP, said it was "shameful" that 9000 single parents had been sanctioned in Scotland with a loss of benefits.

He said: "That is 9,000 families where the state has made putting food on the table even more challenging.

"We should be helping people back into work, not punishing them for failing to tick the right box in a form and forcing them into destitution."

Local government

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on Evening Times on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis. If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.


Have you got a story?

Contact the news desk on 0141 302 6520 or email
Michelle McManus

Michelle McManus

Sussed in the City

I don’t think I’ve uttered the words “no, he’s not a stripper we’ve hired so put him down.




Janice Bell

Janice Bell

You couldn’t make up half the stuff that happens to PA Janice Bell- some of the jams she gets herself into are worth a story or two.

Games news:

Putting the world to rights

Gail's Gab

My thoughts after Police Scotland are ordered to apologise over IRA interrogation techniques slur.

Cat’s Eyes on Glasgow

Cat’s Eyes on Glasgow

Cat Cubie’s job is to find and share with you the fabulous things the city has to offer, from gigs to gastro.