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Consultation: Have your say on making benefit sanctions ‘a little bit fairer’

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SNP MP Mhairi Black has launched a public consultation on her Private Member’s Bill which seeks to make the UK Government’s punitive sanctions regime ‘a little bit fairer’ by establishing a code of conduct.

The bill – which will be debated in the Houses of Commons on December 2nd – would require Jobcentre advisers across the UK to take into account an individual’s circumstances before issuing a sanction and therefore, cutting off their financial support.

Mhairi Black, MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South, chose to introduce the Benefit Claimants Sanctions (Required Assessment) Bill 2016-17 after hearing from many of her constituents who had suffered hardship as a result of an unfair sanction and through her experiences on the Work and Pensions committee of the differing ways that Jobcentres across the UK implement sanctions.

Mhairi Black MP said: “I’m delighted to launch a public consultation today.

“If I could eradicate benefits sanctions entirely so that no-one would have to endure the misery of having their financial support unfairly or suddenly cut off, I would. But unfortunately I can’t do that and I’m determined to really make a difference with this bill and not to waste this important opportunity by staging a protest.

“Sanctions are when an individual’s support is suddenly withdrawn because one of a number of strict and ludicrous conditions are not met – if a parent misses an appointment at the Jobcentre because they were at a child’s sick bed it doesn’t matter, they will still have their support withdrawn.

“Evidence shows this leads to increased use of foodbanks, as well as huge amounts of stress on individuals and their families, and that is simply not acceptable.

“My bill will introduce a process of assessing a person’s circumstances such as their caring commitments, whether they are at risk of homelessness or whether they suffer from a mental ill-health condition that could be exacerbated by a sanction.

“But I know my bill may not be perfect and so I want to hear from you – about whether you agree that there should be a code of conduct for all Jobcentres to adhere to and should those with particular vulnerabilities, at the very least be shielded from this punitive regime?

“Please go to the SNP’s website or use the links on the SNP’s Facebook and Twitter accounts to fill out the survey on my bill so that together – if the UK Government’s sanctions regime has to exist – we can make it a little bit fairer for everyone.”

The survey is available on the SNP’s website here: http://www.snp.org/tacklingsanctions


This is an official press release from the Scottish National Party (SNP).


Tags : ArticleBenefit SanctionsBenefitsNewsPoliticsReformScottish governmentSNPSocietyUK newsUnemploymentWelfare
  • Kooljeff

    Mhairi Black is a shining example of what an MP should be. We need more like her, especially down here in England.

  • JaySprout

    I’ve been unemployed for eight years – this isn’t a choice, I’m desperate to work but there are many barriers and no support – I’ve only been sanctioned once (ESA re-assessment poses a bigger risk to me) but the situation was beyond ridiculous.

    Work Program had been sending me letters for around a year in error, I attempted to contact them on numerous occasions to stop these letters but they kept coming – Job Centre told me to ignore the letters. Next thing I know I’ve a letter saying I missed a MANDATORY appointment I hadn’t known about, even if they’d have sent a letter I’d have had no way of knowing it was any different to other letters I’d been getting (especially as I struggle to read).

    As soon as I knew I’d missed a mandatory appointment I rescheduled and attended, I was sanctioned and told that not only did I have to make up for the mandatory appointment but also six additional non-mandatory appointments until they’d lift the sanction – with up to a month between appointments I’d have been sanctioned for up to nice months.

    This was just before Christmas and as I was still counted as being on ESA there was no help, if not for a local church giving me a food parcel I’d have starved and I almost lost my home (as a disabled person shelters aren’t always suitable for me, lord knows what I’d have done).

    I had no choice but to appeal, but DWP had accidentally sanctioned me twice and between the first and second sanction the rules on how to appeal had changed. I was appealing the first sanction but DWP kept sending my appeal back thinking it was in relation to the second sanction. It took me sobbing and BEGGING Job Centre staff to fax an appeal through at 4:30pm on Friday (last day I could appeal), the appeal went through by some miracle.

    If it wasn’t for that church feeding me along with CAB going above and beyond to help me appeal then I’d have had no income for as long as nine months…no food, no utilities, I’d have lost my home…I dread to think what I’d have done or what could have happened to me.

    I’ve always followed the rules, even when I’ve been asked to do things that the Job Centre have known could cause serious health problems, even in a work placement where I was almost sexually assaulted…because I have no other choice. I don’t choose to be unemployed or disabled, it’s beyond words that people would rather punish me than help me into work.

    • UnderTheBedMonster

      If you had NO MONEY for food, utilities HOW DID YOU MANAGE TO KEEP YOUR HOME AND KEEP YOUR UTILITIES TURNED ON? I’m kinda skeptical of your story there Jay. With NO income coming in for 9 months I really find it hard to believe your story.

  • neal marshall

    The DWP should have to go to court to impose sanction (innocent until proven guilty, not guilty until proven innocent). Sanctions are imposed at will by JCP, the claimant has to take them to court, which can take months. Meanwhile they have no money

  • UnderTheBedMonster

    Sanctions should apply only when there are ENOUGH JOBS to have everybody have work…. TOO FEW JOBS and TOO MANY LOOKING FOR JOBS = a total failure in the system.

  • UnderTheBedMonster

    I think Dr. Webster had it right…… But I think it’s just ANOTHER WAY to keep the people poor and in jeopardy of losing their homes, etc. and being homeless, broke and hopefully end it all….which would solve the politician’s problems. They want to give the jobs to the illegals and NOT the British people. They WANT to totally replace the population with the turds from foreign lands who will not get upset working for far less than they should be paid or living in subcondition housing….in short they won’t complain.