Recent reports that the UK Government used fake quotes to promote its benefit sanction regime have been slammed by Paisley’s MSP George Adam and Minister for Housing and Welfare, Margaret Burgess. George, asking a parliament question on the matter, highlighted the issue of the fake quote with the Minister, who was saddened, but unsurprised by the tactics employed by the current UK Government.
Speaking after the parliamentary exchange, George said, ‘It is totally unacceptable that UK Government Ministers are resorting to making up fake quotes and testimonials to promote its failed benefit sanctioning regime. Over the past few years I have heard stories of people being sanctioned for failing to attend the job centre, because they had a job interview, going up to Aberdeen looking for work for a few days and being sanctioned for taking an unauthorized ‘holiday’, while I met a man with a severe brain injury, who had been on incapacity benefit for 20 years, who was suddenly told he was fit for work.
‘While sanctions are used as the punishment, I am often taken aback by the total lack of care and empathy shown by the DWP. We need a DWP that helps people into work instead of penalising them for being out of work. It is horrible being unemployed. You have to live on a reduced amount of money and people often tell me you can get stuck in a rut if they are unemployed for too long. That is why it is imperative that we do all we can to help people into work and make them feel like we care while doing so. There does not seem to be a care in the world coming out of the DWP currently. Would time not be better spent looking to improve the help given to people to find employment instead of making up fake quotes about a system that is failing? This punitive sanction regime must end now! ”
Answering George’s parliamentary question, the Minister for Housing and Welfare, Margaret Burgess said, “Sadly, that is unsurprising from the United Kingdom Government, which brought in the discredited sanctions system. We know the problems that the current sanctions regime is causing. It is clear that the system is not working, and no number of made-up public-relations case studies can demonstrate otherwise. This further highlights the failings in the whole system and the flawed approach of the UK Government. That is why we believe that the current regime should be suspended pending an urgent review. It is a discredited system that needs a complete overhaul, and we support the House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee’s call for a full and independent review of the system.”