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

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.

DWP minister refuses Green MSP’s invitation

20 February, 2017 - 10:41

It has been revealed in a letter to a Green MSP, that the UK government minister behind the announced closures of up to 23 Jobcentre Plus sites across Scotland, has refused to visit Greater Glasgow, the area set to lose the majority of the offices.

Child Poverty Bill: Greens Urge Focus On Boosting Incomes

10 February, 2017 - 17:38

Alison Johnstone MSP, Social Security spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, today (10 Feb) welcomed publication of the Scottish Government's Child Poverty Bill and urged Ministers to focus on boosting families' incomes. 

The Bill proposes a target that by 2030 fewer than 10 per cent of Scottish children are living in relative poverty. At the moment, in some parts of Scotland, a third of children live in relative poverty.

In recent months, the Green MSPs have secured a number of anti-poverty measures from the Scottish Government, including:

We must invest in a better future for Scots seeking work

Alison Johnstone MSP Fri 10 Feb

The devolution of some aspects of the social security system is proving to be a huge opportunity for Scotland to show that a fairer society is possible. The package of powers devolved in the wake of the independence referendum was limited but even so, we can use these powers in creative ways to prove that we are a caring nation.

Job centre closures are wrong-headed

26 January, 2017 - 17:11

Alison Johnstone MSP, Social Security spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, today (26 Jan) branded plans by the UK Government to close a raft of job centres and offices as wrong-headed.

The Department of Work and Pensions plans to close seven job centres and eight administration sites, on top of plans announced last month to close eight job centres in Glasgow, a move that the city's Green MSP Patrick Harvie has been campaigning against.