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

Johnstone urges UK Gov to reconsider cap on Child Tax Credits for more than two children

25 May, 2017 - 13:33

Alison Johnstone MSP, Social Security spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, today (25 May) urged the UK Government to urgently reconsider its cap on Child Tax Credits for more than two children.
 
At today's meeting of Holyrood's Social Security Committee, Alison asked John Dickie of the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) about the way that the UK Government's reforms have broken the link with a system that was originally based on need.
 

Johnstone urges Scot Gov to heed report by Social Security Committee on Child Poverty Bill

22 May, 2017 - 13:20

Alison Johnstone MSP, Social Security spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, today (22 May) urged the Scottish Government to heed a report by Holyrood's Social Security Committee on the proposed Child Poverty Bill.

The report recommends that the Bill should include a challenging target to address persistent poverty, and interim targets for "greater immediacy".

The Committee, of which Alison Johnstone is a member, also recommends making full use of Scottish social security powers and providing advice to parents and carers to boost their incomes. 

Devolution of Disability Living Allowance & Carers Benefit gives us a chance to create a fairer, more equal Scotland

Alison Johnstone MSP Fri 19 May

This week was an important one in Scotland’s devolution journey. Responsibility to legislate for a range of benefits, including Disability Living Allowance and Carers Benefit, was formally passed to the Scottish Parliament.

It’s time to reverse the rape clause and end cuts to incomes of women and children

25 April, 2017 - 16:53

Holyrood’s Green MSPs will this evening join with an expected majority of the parliament in voting to condemn the UK government’s two-child limit on child tax and universal credit and against the imposition of the "rape clause".

A Green amendment, condemning the cap as being yet another cut the UK Government knows will hit women hardest, is expected to be passed.

Alison Johnstone MSP, the Greens' social security spokesperson said:

Universal Credit has caused rent arrears and hardship for people who need support

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.