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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