Sanctions: Green MSP report shows how to end unfair penalties

Scottish Green MSPs today published a report showing, for the first time, the number of people likely to face sanctions under Scottish-controlled employment programmes unless the Scottish Government takes action.

The report - Scotland Against Sanctions - also makes the case that when employment programmes are devolved in April next year the Scottish Government should insist on contracts that prevent sanctions being implemented. 

The Greens' report finds:

  • Without a change in policy from the Scottish Government, 13,000 people a year may soon face sanctions under benefits devolved to Scotland.
  • The average JSA sanction is worth around £530. That means £7m a year is taken from people eligible for support through the employment programme that's coming under Scottish control.
  • Only a third of people on the Work Programme successfully find a job for more than 6 months. The ever-present threat of sanctions can deteriorate people's health, making it harder to get a job.

Alison Johnstone MSP, Social Security spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, said:

"Our research shows that 80,000 sanctions have been issued to people on employment programmes in Scotland since 2010. 13,000 people a year may soon face sanctions under benefits devolved to Scotland.

"Sanctions simply don't work. They do not help people into long-term employment and they clearly contribute to worsening physical and mental health. Scotland has an opportunity to take a different, positive approach.

"For the DWP to implement a sanction they need information from the provider of the employment programme. The Scottish Government could insist that programme providers do not pass information on. This already happens in a small way with young people involved in the Sector Based Work Academy, so there's no reason we can't apply the approach more widely.

"Preventing sanctions being implemented would send a strong message about fairness in our society."