Mhairi Black: Fight against ‘deeply-flawed’ benefit sanctions will continue

SNP accuse Tories and Labour of failing to back reform Bill.


SNP MP Mhairi Black has vowed to continue to fight against the “deeply-flawed and cruel” benefits sanctions regime as debating time for the bill ran out in the House of Commons today.

Mhairi Black led the debate on her Benefits Sanctions (Required Assessment) Bill and hoped to have it progress to committee stage but, despite having over 40 of the 54 SNP MPs in attendance the lack of other opposition MPs meant that bill lacked the 100 members needed to progress to the next stage in Parliament.

The Bill proposed that Department for Work and Pensions staff in Jobcentres across the UK would be required to consider whether personal circumstances such as caring commitments, whether a person is at risk of homelessness or whether they suffer from a mental ill-health condition that could be exacerbated by a benefit sanction before one can be issued.


Despite widespread agreement from all MPs that there are huge issues with the benefits sanctions regime, Tory MPs spoke at length to oppose the bill.

Lack of progress today means the bill is not likely to be heard again this session.

Mhairi Black MP (pictured) said: “I am very disappointed that my bill was not supported by a sufficient number of MPs to guarantee its passage in the Private Member’s Bill process but this is by no means the end of my fight against the deeply-flawed and cruel sanctions regime and I will never stop working towards a fairer, more just society.

“Apart from a handful of notable exceptions, Labour were nowhere to be seen and failed to turn up to support the bill.

“Labour MPs have no problem talking about their opposition of the hated sanctions system but sadly when we had a real opportunity to make a difference they failed to act.

“And the Tories who did turn up, only did so to oppose the bill despite many MPs from the Government benches recognising the very real problems that exist within the system.

“Sanctions hit people, they hit real people. They are not statistics, they are human beings who are struggling and they are suffering, all due to the actions of the UK Government.

“With this bill Parliament had a real opportunity to make a difference and stop some of the misery and hardship caused by sanctions – sadly this opportunity was wasted.”


This is an official press release from the Scottish National Party (SNP). Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only and may not be shared by Welfare Weekly.


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