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“Sanctions are when an individual’s support is suddenly withdrawn because one of a number of strict and ludicrous conditions are not met – if a parent misses an appointment at the Jobcentre because they were at a child’s sick bed it doesn’t matter, they will still have their support withdrawn.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