Welfare reforms will have devastating impact says MP

Local MP Corri Wilson has condemned plans to put families with children as young as one at risk of benefits sanctions.

The SNP MP for Carrick says the UK Government’s Welfare Reform and Work Bill would no longer protect parents and families in receipt of Employment Support Allowance (ESA) and Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) who have young children from work related conditions - such as having to go to interviews or training at Jobcentres.

Previously this was seen as too onerous for parents of young children but the proposed bill would remove this protection for parents of children over the age of one.

The Welfare Reform and Work Bill Committee met Thursday (10 September) and heard evidence from third sector organisations that also raised concerns about the bill and further backed up calls for a review of the sanctions process

Ms Wilson has already called for an urgent halt to all sanctions of benefits until an independent review of the Department for Work and Pensions’ conditionality and practices can be carried out.

Speaking after the Committee meeting, Ms Wilson, said: “The current sanctions regime needs to be frozen immediately so that we can prevent families with young children being hit by potential sanctions. Having your benefits cut or stopped altogether, even for a short time, can throw hard up families into arrears with rent and bills that can take them months, or even years to recover from. The impact on those with babies and toddlers could be devastating.

“There are many demands on young working families’ and single parents’ time and budgets but to pile on even more pressure through work-related conditions is unbelievable and just goes to show that the Tories have absolutely no regard for the most vulnerable people in our society. The stricter conditionality included in this bill means that even parents with young children who can’t find last minute childcare are at risk of being sanctioned.

“We will bring forward amendments to this bill and continue to fight attacks on low-income families in order to ensure young children in Scotland are not hit by these horrific requirements.”