THE SNP called for a halt to the Westminster government’s benefits sanctions yesterday, branding them “dehumanising and ineffective” during a Holyrood debate.
Scottish Parliament social security committee convener Sandra White said the sanctions regime should be “a stain on the conscience of the Tory government” and demanded that sanctions be put on hold pending an “immediate and urgent review.”
MSPs were debating a Glasgow University report showing that the punitive sanctions regime causes reliance on foodbanks and pushes its victims towards “survival crime.”
The study revealed that benefit claimants are sanctioned for “offences” such as arriving a few minutes late for appointments, with those affected becoming “near-destitute” as a result.
Ms White said that the evidence was “absolutely overwhelming — the UK government’s sanctions regime is dehumanising, ineffective and pushes people into destitution … often through no fault of their own.”
She criticised the Tory government for punishing benefit claimants disproportionately, an approach which fails to help jobseekers find work and “puts many people in the position where they’re simply penniless, which is why foodbank providers identify sanctions as one of the key drivers for their growth.”
Disabled People Against Cuts spokesperson Linda Burnip said that Department for Work and Pensions figures reveal a 600 per cent rise in people with mental health issues being sanctioned. Calling for an end to the regime, she said it seemed to be “OK to allow a healthy person to starve and if you are disabled to starve a little bit more slowly.”