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DWP must ‘show some compassion’ and halt benefit sanctions over Christmas, says MP

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Hannah Bardell MP has called on the UK government to show some compassion this Christmas and halt cruel sanctions to social security which can leave people in desperate situations.

The SNP MP tabled a number of questions in the UK Parliament to confirm whether the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) would introduce a policy of offering a ‘grace period’ over the festive season as has previously been done.

So far, the Department have refused to do so.

The MP is calling on the new Secretary of State Amber Rudd to take a different approach to her predecessors to allow families and individuals to be free from the threat of punitive Tory benefit sanctions.

Last year, 12,800 people were sanctioned in December – 1,330 people in Scotland.

Since the resignation of Esther McVey, the former Secretary of State for the Department of Work and Pensions, Amber Rudd has been under increasing pressure to overhaul the Tory government’s cruel benefit sanctions regime.

A Trussell Trust food bank.
Benefit sanctions have been blamed for pushing the poor to foodbanks.

Commenting, Hannah Bardell MP said: “Sanctions to social security – where payments are stopped temporarily for reasons often outwith the claimant’s control – can leave families destitute.

“The Tory government’s punitive sanctions are callous at any time of the year; they can make the difference between a family being able to eat or heat their home.

“I’m calling on the government to show some compassion this festive season.

“On Amber Rudd’s first Christmas as Work and Pensions Secretary, I plead with her to take a different approach.

“However piecemeal it may be, the UK government still have the ability to make a real change to people’s lives over Christmas.

“The Tory government’s record on Christmas cheer is far from encouraging.

“The Christmas period can be a difficult time for people facing the threat of benefit sanctions. I hope the UK government will see sense on this matter.”

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