The SNP is today highlighting further expert evidence on the ‘devastating’ impacts of sanctions on women – amidst further backing for powers over the sanctions regime to be in Scotland’s hands rather than Westminster’s.
Ahead of this week’s meeting of the Scottish Parliament’s Welfare Reform Committee, a series of expert submissions have underlined the appalling impact of sanctions on single mothers, survivors of domestic and sexual abuse, disabled women and refugees in particular.
Close the Gap, One Parent Families Scotland, the Fawcett Society, Inclusion Scotland, the Scottish Refugee Council, Child Poverty Action Group and the Scottish Women’s Convention all submitted written evidence highly critical of the UK Government’s social security cuts.
Many of the organisations provided case studies of those impacted by cuts – with One Parent Families telling the story of Emma, 20, who is receiving JSA, pregnant and suffering from severe morning sickness. When she tried to reschedule her work focused interview due to being incapacitated by morning sickness, she was sanctioned for four weeks.
The Scottish Women’s Convention also described how one woman, who was ten minutes late for an appointment due to having to take her four year old to the toilet, was also sanctioned for four weeks, and as a result was unable to feed her children.
The evidence also states that sanctions have led to some women being unable to afford to buy sanitary products.
This new evidence comes as other front-line organisations have made clear to the Committee their reservations with leaving the sanctions regime under the control of the UK Government – amidst growing calls for the full devolution of powers over social security to Scotland.
The SNP has previously backed calls from organisations such as Citizens Advice Scotland for a moratorium of the sanctions regime.
Commenting, Clare Adamson said:
“This is some absolutely heart-breaking evidence from front-line organisations on the appalling impact Westminster’s sanctioning regime is having on vulnerable women across Scotland – and shows exactly why we need these powers in Scotland’s hands.
“From single mothers to refugees, it’s clear that these sanctions are hurting the very people who need help the most – and the fact that organisations who see the impact of sanctions first hand in our communities are speaking out should make people sit up and take notice.
“The SNP has already been clear that there needs to be an immediate review of the UK Government’s conditionality and sanctions regime – and the DWP should not be allowed to impose any more unfair sanctions on vulnerable people while the review is ongoing.
“But more than that, we need the powers to put a stop to this relentless assault on vulnerable people – and to design a new and better system.
“Vulnerable women in Scotland can’t afford to continue to have these powers callously wielded by the likes of Iain Duncan Smith – we need full powers over social security in Scotland to allow us to protect, support and empower people who need help, rather than pushing them into poverty with punitive cuts and sanctions as the Tories are continuing to do.”