We have the power to prevent 13,000 Scots being sanctioned by the DWP

Alison Johnstone MSP, Social Security spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, today questioned comments by new Social Security minister Jeane Freeman, who claimed that Holyrood will have no control over benefit sanctions.

Last month, the Green MSPs published a report showing how to stop 13,000 Scots a year being sanctioned by the UK Department of Work and Pensions when responsibility for employment programmes is devolved next Spring.

Sanctions don't help people into sustained employment and have been shown to increase hardship and worsen health.

Alison Johnstone MSP said:

“The new social security minister is right that the benefits that are sanctioned by the DWP aren’t being devolved but it’s disappointing that she fails to acknowledge that a precedent has already been set by her Government on this issue. Young Scots involved in the Sector Based Work Academies scheme don’t face sanctions due to an agreement between the Scottish and Westminster governments, and there's no reason we can't apply the approach more widely.

“The Green MSPs have put forward a credible, detailed proposal that would prevent 13,000 Scots being sanctioned by the DWP once Scotland has responsibility for employment programmes next Spring. Thousands of people have signed a petition backing this plan, and if the social security minister hasn’t yet read it, I’d encourage her to do so.”

Jeane Freeman quoted on Common Space, 1 Sep: "We won’t have, devolved to us, the benefits that the DWP imposes sanctions on, work related benefits. So the sanctions regime won't be under our control."

Scotland Against Sanctions report for the Green MSPs