Sunday, 6 March 2016

Impact of benefit sanctions

On Saturday, 6th March, I attended a conference of Foodbanks organised by The Trussell Trust. It provided an opportunity to hear about the concerns of volunteers involved in running foodbanks across Scotland. 

There were representatives from the five main parties who took part in a hustings and the Scottish Green Party was represented by Anni Pues. During the debate, the issues of poverty, welfare reform, benefit sanctions and low wages were raised.

Anni Pues and myself with a representative of the Trussell Trust. 

I heard about research in to the impact of benefit sanctions from Dr David Webster of the University of Glasgow. He has analysed statistical evidence about benefit sanctions and this has been submitted to the Work and Pensions Select Committee. 

The current system of benefit sanctions leaves many people facing destitution and crisis. This is unacceptable inhumane and degrading treatment.  It is vital to ensure that people who have been affected - some of the most vulnerable people including those with mental health issues and learning disabilities - are not left by the benefits system to suffer from hardship and hunger. Benefit claimants should not be left without any income at all. Further improvements are needed to to ensure that people access support through Jobcentres, Local Welfare Assistance Schemes and the Scottish Welfare Fund.

Foodbanks offer a lifeline for people facing destitution and crisis. However,  they are not a sustainable solution. The benefits system has to be resourced to provide the safety net and support services required by people in crisis.

Useful links:

Benefit sanctions: Britain's secret penal system- 
CPAG - Briefings on benefit sanctions by David Webster -

Real Stories from The Trussell Trust -

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