The Scottish National Party (SNP) has today condemned new Tory welfare plans, which could see children as young as one affected by “devastating” benefit sanctions.
Changes outlined in the ‘Welfare Reform and Work Bill’ would mean that parents of young children will no longer be protected from taking part in work related activities, such as attending Jobcentre interviews and training courses.
The changes would affect young children’s parents in receipt of Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) and those in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).
These requirements have previously been regarded as too demanding and onerous for parents of very young children, but proposals detailed in the Bill would remove this protection for parents of children over the age of one.
The Scottish Welfare Reform and Work Bill Committee have met to discuss the changes and hear from third sector organisations.
“to place babies and young children at risk turns my stomach” – Hannah Bardell MP
Charities and others have joined the SNP in calling on the UK Government to hold an urgent review into the benefit sanctions regime, in fear that more young children would be harmed if their parents’ benefits are stopped (sanctioned).
Hannah Bardell MP, the SNP’s spokesperson on Fair Work and Employment, said: “We already know that the Tories’ cruel and damaging cuts to social security are having a devastating impact on those who are desperately in need of help but to place babies and young children at risk turns my stomach.
“There are many demands on young working families’ and single parents’ time and budgets but to pile on even more pressure through work-related conditions is unbelievable and just goes to show that the Tories have absolutely no regard for the most vulnerable people in our society.
“We want all children in Scotland to grow up happy and healthy but if sanctions are to be slapped on parents with babies and toddlers who cannot fulfil work-related conditions it could have a devastating impact on a family’s ability to care for their children.
“The current sanctions regime needs to be frozen immediately so that we can prevent families with young children being hit by potential sanctions and we will fight against these measure in the bill tooth and nail.
“The stricter conditionality also means that parents with young children who can’t find last-minute childcare are at risk of being sanctioned.
“The SNP will bring forward amendments to this bill and continue to fight Tory attacks on low-income families in order to ensure young children in Scotland are not hit by these horrific requirements.”