80,000 strikes and counting: Let's stop the first Scottish sanction

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Our research shows that 13,000 people a year may soon face benefit sanctions through employment programmes devolved to Scotland.

Let's stop the first Scottish sanction.

What does the research show?

80,000 sanctions have been issued to people on employment programmes in Scotland since 2010. Employment programmes are to be devolved from April 2017. This means that, without a change in policy from the SNP, 13,000 people a year may soon face sanctions under benefits devolved to the Scottish Government.

How much money are we talking?

The average JSA sanction is worth £530. That means £7m a year is taken from people eligible for support through the employment programme that's coming under Scottish control. And remember, that's just 22% of all sanctions applied to people in Scotland.

But sanctions are needed, right?

Employment programmes are meant to help people get back to work, but we know only a third of people on the Work Programme successfully find a job for more than 6 months. Sanctions can push people into low paid, insecure or inappropriate jobs which force people into a cycle of regular unemployment. The ever-present threat of sanctions can lead to a deterioration in people's health and make it harder to get a job. We also know people who are most disadvantaged are the most likely to be sanctioned - this is wrongheaded.

Aren't sanctions reserved to Westminster?

They are, but for the DWP to implement a sanction they need information from the provider of the employment programme. The Scottish Government could, if it was willing, ensure that its procurement contracts with employment programme providers bans this sort of information being passed on.

Can that really be done?

Yes. It's already the case for a couple of small-scale schemes in Scotland. For example, young people on training courses through the Sector Based Work Academy (SBWA) could be sanctioned but the information needed for sanctions to happen is deliberately withheld on Scottish ministers' orders.

Let's do it then...

Let's make sure Scotland's social security system is sanction-free.

Sign our petition to show your support for a sanction-free Scotland.

Sign the Petition

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Latest Campaign Updates

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22 March, 2017 - 14:12

Alison Johnstone MSP, Social Security spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, today (22 March) backed the call from Scottish Ministers for the UK Government to stop the roll out of Universal Credit in Scotland.

Alison Johnstone MSP said:

“Universal Credit has caused rent arrears and hardship for people who need support, with some distressing cases where people have been left with pennies to live on. There’s a six week wait time, during which you can apply for a crisis loan, but you then need to repay that from a very low income.

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16 March, 2017 - 15:49

Alison Johnstone MSP, Social Security spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, today (16 March) said that new figures showing 1 million Scots are living in poverty show the need to pursue Green policies.

The figures show that after housing costs, 20 per cent of people in Scotland were living in relative poverty in 2015/16, representing 1.05 million people. This compares to 18 per cent in 2014/15.

The number of children affected has risen to 260,000.

Citizen's Income discussion couldn't have come at a better time

Alison Johnstone MSP Thu 9 Mar

Paying all citizens a basic amount of money to live off, regardless of status, is at the same time a very old and a thoroughly modern idea. As far back as 1795, American revolutionary Thomas Paine wanted to reduce inequalities between people who did and did not own land by creating a nation fund, supported by an extra land tax, that would have paid a lump sum to everyone at the age of 21.

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2 March, 2017 - 14:22

Alison Johnstone MSP, Social Security spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, today (2 March) welcomed comments by Social Security minister Jeane Freeman that she would consider using the forthcoming Social Security Bill to ensure payments keep pace with inflation.

At today's meeting of Holyrood's Social Security committee, Alison pointed out that the UK Government has frozen the rates of some benefits in recent years. Child Benefit, for example, will lose 28 per cent of its value by 2020.

We must use new powers to help people access the benefits they're entitled to

22 February, 2017 - 17:21

Alison Johnstone MSP, Social Security spokesperson, today (22 Feb) welcomed comments by the Social Security minister that she is considering an automatic approach for applicants to the new Scottish system.

In their submission to the Scottish Government's consultation on using new social security powers, the Scottish Greens proposed that when someone applies for a benefit, they should be considered for all Scottish social security payments and services. This would ensure vulnerable people receive what they are entitled to, tackling poverty and poor health.