Wednesday, 30 November 2016 10:49

UK GOVERNMENT “not doing enough” to find out impact of benefit sanctions

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The Scottish National Party has today repeated calls for a full and independent review of the “deeply flawed” benefits sanctions regime after Whitehall’s official auditor said the UK Government was “not doing enough” to find out how sanctions affect people on benefits.

A report from the National Audit Office (NAO) found that the controversial benefits sanctions regime costs taxpayers a staggering £285 million compared to the £132 million a year that the cuts save.

Mhairi Black MP’s Private Member’s Bill, which will be debated in the House of Commons on Friday 2nd December, will introduce a code of conduct for Jobcentre staff across the UK that would ensure an individual’s personal circumstances would be taken into account before a sanction is issued.

Director Ken Loach, whose recent film I, Daniel Black explores the effect of benefit sanctions, has backed the Bill saying Mhairi Black is an MP “working hard to make a difference” and urged others to support her initiative.

Mhairi Black MP said:

“The benefit sanctions regime is deeply flawed and the SNP has long-called for a full and independent review of the entire system.

“The NAO found that a shocking 24% of Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants received a sanction between 2010 and 2015 and that the rate of sanctioning varies dramatically - this is simply not right and it is vital that the Tories finally listen to the concerns about the damage that benefit sanctions can have on individuals and their families.

“My Private Member’s Bill - which will be debated on Friday - will introduce a code of conduct for all Jobcentres across the UK that would make it compulsory for advisors to take a claimant’s personal circumstances into account before issuing a sanction. For example, advisors would need to consider whether a person is at risk of homelessness, whether they have caring responsibilities or a mental health condition that could be exacerbated further if their benefits were to be sanctioned.

“It is a small ask and unfortunately I can’t use a Private Member’s Bill to scrap the sanctions completely but hopefully, with the support of MPs across the House of Commons, I’ll be able to make a real difference to the lives of thousands of people across the UK.”

Mhairi Black MP’s Private Member’s Bill Benefit Sanctions (Required Assessment) will be debated in the House of Commons on Friday 2nd December 2016.

Ken Loach backs Mhairi Black's Private Member's Bill:

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