Paisley’s MSP George Adam has joined Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in slamming the Tory UK Government for the increased amount of benefit sanctions being handed out to job seekers. While asking a question of the Deputy First Minister about how we would reform welfare in an independent Scotland, George went on to ask if she shared his concerns about the current changes to the welfare system.
Commenting George said, “The Deputy First Minster rightly pointed out that we want a welfare system in an independent Scotland that is fair and does everything possible to help people into work but which also provides a decent, civilised safety net for people when they need it. I do not want this current system which is making an ever increasing number of my constituents come to me for help and advice after they have had their benefits sanctioned. This is no coincidence, the increase in the number of sanctions if not happening for no reason, it’s happening as a result of the Westminster dogma to cut back on welfare spending, no matter the cost to real people with real families to support and real bills to pay.
‘I have had constituents come to my office after having their benefits sanctioned and they have not even been told what for. They then need to wait weeks after submitting an appeal to find out, no surprise here, that the appeal has been rejected. This leaves them with no money what so ever or having to reply on hardship payments. One of the most staggering things I have noticed is that the DWP staff seem to be getting told from on high to push people towards food banks. The reason food banks are on the rise is due to, among other things, benefit sanctions. Isn’t it perverse that the rise in use of food banks is being used by the UK Government as almost an alternative to getting Job Seekers Allowance?
‘I’ve had more than one constituent come and tell me that they have had their benefit sanctioned because they attended a job interview instead of signing on. I’ve had people not able to afford to go to job interviews because they have no money to get there or to buy the shirt and trousers that they need to feel presentable when attending interviews.
‘The vast majority of people on Job Seekers Allowance understand they have to look for employment to gain their benefit, however the Tories seem to be looking for every and any way to hinder instead of help people into work. Scotland is a rich country; we should not be treating our citizens in such a way. We can and will do a better job with the full powers of independence.”