Thursday, 27 October 2016 13:18

OXFORD study ties tory benefit sanctions to foodbank use

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The SNP has highlighted a report from the University of Oxford which found a “robust link” between increases in the number of benefit sanctions handed out by the DWP and rising number of adults receiving food parcels – offering further proof of the deeply damaging impact of Tory welfare policies.

The study found a direct relationship between the numbers of sanctions and the level of referrals to food banks – yet more evidence of what the report calls a “strong, dynamic relationship” between the two.
This is the second report in as many weeks which further debunks the Tory government’s claims that sanctions somehow “incentivise” claimants in their search for work. Following a report from a UK Government backed think tank which stated that the UK Government’s welfare conditionality policies can lead to poor claimant decision making and in turn result in lower quality and lower paid work outcomes, this new report from the University of Oxford shows that sanctions are tied to economic hardship, hunger and crisis in families.
The Scottish Government continues to mitigate against the negative impact of Tory welfare policies which lead to hardship. As well as spending £100 million a year through our welfare mitigation funding, the Scottish Government has established a £1 million fair food fund – and continues to take a strong stance on sanctions, opposing the deeply damaging policies of the DWP.
The Scottish Government has announced that its employability support programmes will be voluntary and treat people with dignity and respect and that they will work to ensure people are not sanctioned by the DWP when on those programmes.
Commenting, SNP MSP and convener of the Social Security Committee, Sandra White, said:
“This report simply confirms once and for all that the Tory policy of benefit sanctions is deeply harmful to the most vulnerable people in society and drives more individuals to food banks.
“It is absolutely shameful that anyone in a wealthy country such as Scotland needs to rely on food banks, and the Tory policy of cutting benefits and sanctioning people at every opportunity is the driving force behind this.
“Although much work has already been done by the Scottish Government to protect people on the new employability support programmes, committing £100 million a year to the welfare mitigation fund and establishing a £1 million fair food fund, it remains up to the Tories at Westminster to bring an end to their regressive sanctions policy and reverse the damage done.
“The Tory government has been inflicting damage on our communities and citizens since 2010 – and their claim that sanctions are somehow an ‘incentive’ to encourage people into work simply does not stand up to scrutiny.
“We’ve seen food bank use rise across the UK from 40,898 in 2009-2010 to over 1 million in 2015-16. The Tory government stands guilty of inflicting the most damaging policies imaginable on its citizens – and it is time for them to end their failed ideological sanctions regime once and for all.”
The study is reported on page 15 of today’s Guardian.
Latest statistics on food bank use can be found here:
The Behavioural Insights Team -  a social purpose company part-owned by the UK government – published a report on 20 October which stated that the UK Government’s welfare conditionality policies can lead to poor claimant decision making and in turn result in lower quality and lower paid work outcomes. Poverty and decision-making: How behavioural science can improve opportunity in the UK