MSP alarm at benefits statistics

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Adam Ingram MSP has expressed his alarm at new statistics showing the impact of the UK Government Welfare Reforms.

The Carrick MSP said the figures show a worryingly high increase in the level of sanctions being imposed on benefit claimants and that the Work Programme has been responsible for twice as many sanctions as it has produced job outcomes.

Commenting on the statistics, the SNP MSP for Carrick, Cumnock & Doon Valley said: “These figures are yet further evidence of the harsh and unreasonable effects the continual squeeze of the welfare budget by the UK Government is having on those who are out of work.

“The number of JobSeekers who are being sanctioned, which can result in a cessation or reduction in their unemployment benefit, rose dramatically in 2013. Simultaneously, there was a significant increase in the number of appeals against sanctions and in the success rate of appeals, which patently suggests that the sanctions put in place were unreasonable in the first place.”

Mr Ingram added that the Government’s Work Programme had been responsible for twice as many sanctions on the people referred to them as it have produced job outcomes.

“It is clear that the UK Government is creating a climate under which sanctions are to be enforced for the slightest transgression and the interpretation of what merits sanctioning is much more severe. What’s more, the sanctions themselves are becoming increasingly harsher.

“My office is dealing with individuals who are panicking because they don’t know how they are going to pay their rent or feed their children because they have been sanctioned, only for the decision to be overturned on appeal later because it shouldn’t have happened in the first place.

“The vast majority of those who are out of work want to get back to work. The Welfare System is supposed to support people whilst they are out of work and help them find employment, not penalise them. Surely we need to ensure these individuals can focus all their efforts on finding work rather than have them worrying about how they’re going to feed their family?”