Sunday, 19 August 2018 06:05


The SNP’s Westminster Social Justice spokesperson has written to the Secretary of State for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) demanding clarity over the "worryingly" high sanctions rate against Universal Credit claimants.

Statistics on benefit sanctions released this week revealed that the proportion of claimants sanctioned under Universal Credit (2.8%) is nearly ten times higher than under Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) (0.3%), and nearly 30 times higher than Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) (0.1%).

It also revealed that the average Universal Credit sanction lasts for longer than JSA and ESA sanctions.

In a letter to Esther McVey, Neil Gray MP called on the minister to urgently clarify -

  • Why more claimants are being sanctioned under Universal Credit than under legacy benefits?
  • Is it DWP’s policy intention that more claimants be sanctioned under Universal Credit than under legacy benefits?
  • Why Universal Credit sanctions are longer on average than sanctions under legacy benefits?

Commenting, Neil Gray MP said:

“The UK government’s Universal Credit system has been deeply flawed and harmful since its roll-out.  

“With financial support being shamefully pulled from claimants who have already faced delays in Universal Credit, as well as the direct link between people who have been sanctioned and the rise in foodbank use and poverty, the UK government is pushing people into crisis. It needs to stop.

“The SNP has long opposed the Tories’ brutal sanctions regime, and believe it is both cruel and counter-productive. The DWP’s own data shows more people are being sanctioned under Universal Credit than under the previous legacy system.

“According to the last few Benefit Sanctions Statistics bulletins, this trend has been consistent in that the proportion of people sanctioned under Universal Credit is many, many times higher than under the legacy system.

“Esther McVey has many questions to answer over the distressing direction her department is heading. She needs to realise the damage her regime is causing to people she should be helping."

Benefit sanctions statistics to April 2018:

Letter from SNP MP Neil Gray to the Secretary State for the Department for Work and Pensions is available upon request.

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