The Scottish National Party has today demanded an “immediate halt” to the UK Government’s punitive benefit sanctions regime.
The call comes in response to growing fears that DWP staff are being pressurised into slashing vulnerable people’s social security benefits.
SNP Social Justice and Welfare spokesperson, Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP, has written to the Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, demanding a “root and branch” independent review.
Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP, said: “There is clearly a culture of pressure within the DWP which forces staff to refer people for sanctions for fear of retribution against themselves.
“Staff should instead be encouraged to make well-thought through decisions in the first place which would allow more people to move through the system and there would be less people desperately waiting to find out if they will have enough to make ends meet.
“We also recently learned that half of all ESA and JSA sanctions were overturned when reviewed which just goes to show that there is a crisis at the heart of this discredited system and the DWP.
“I have asked for the publication of all sanctions decision for every centre across the UK so that the full picture of the apparent shambles within the DWP can be revealed.
“All sanctions need to be halted immediately until a fundamental root and branch independent review of the DWP’s sanctions and conditionality can be carried out.”
New figures published today show a 31% increase in the number of sick and disabled people hit by benefit sanctions in the last year.
While nearly 44,000 sanctions have been imposed on lone parents claiming Income Support.