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.

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Latest Campaign Updates

Johnstone welcomes confirmation that benefit sanctions won’t apply to devolved employment schemes

Wed 4 Oct, 2017

Alison Johnstone MSP, Social Security spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, today (4 Oct) welcomed confirmation from Scottish Ministers that benefit sanctions won’t apply to devolved employment schemes for people with health conditions and disabilities.

Last year Alison led a campaign to persuade ministers to rule out the use of sanctions, as these are shown to trap people in low-wage work with a negative impact on their health.

Harvie challenges FM over reluctance to fully mitigate cruel benefit cap

Thu 7 Sep, 2017

Patrick Harvie MSP, Co-convener of the Scottish Greens, used today's First Minister's Questions to challenge Nicola Sturgeon over her government's reluctance to fully mitigate the Tories' cruel benefit cap.

Research published by the Green MSPs shows the lowering of the cap since November has hit 3,700 households and pushed over 11,000 children into potential poverty and homelessness.

We must do more to mitigate the effects of the benefit cap

Alison Johnstone MSP Fri 1 Sep, 2017

The schools are back and a new session of Parliament beckons. While most people will have had a break with family and friends, summer isn't such an enjoyable time for all. Many families face the extra cost of meals and activities which would usually be provided at school.

Last July and August, Trussell Trust UK provided 4,412 more three-day emergency food parcels for children than during the previous two months. 27% of these went to children younger than 4, including newborns, and I fear that we will see similar numbers this year.

Our analysis shows UK Gov Benefit Cap affecting 11,000 children in Scotland

Thu 31 Aug, 2017

Alison Johnstone MSP, Social Security spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, today (31 Aug) published analysis showing that the UK Government's new Benefit Cap is affecting 11,000 children in Scotland, and has led to a 400 per cent increase in the number of households affected.

Alison is urging the Scottish Government to use devolved powers to mitigate the policy, in the same way that the Bedroom Tax was mitigated.

Johnstone welcomes launch of campaign for £5 a week top-up of Child Benefit

Wed 30 Aug, 2017

Alison Johnstone MSP, Social Security spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, today (30 Aug) welcomed the launch of the Give Me Five campaign, which calls for a £5 a week top-up of Child Benefit to lift 30,000 children out of poverty.

A top-up was called for in the Scottish Greens' 2016 Holyrood election manifesto, and has been a consistent priority from Alison Johnstone.