An man claiming the new Universal Credit had his benefits sanctioned for failing to look for work, despite waiting to start a new job at the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).
SNP MP Alison Thewliss was shocked to hear about the ridiculous and “unjust situation” faced by a man from her Glasgow constituency.
She has now written to Iain Duncan Smith, demanding that the Work and Pensions Secretary “issues guidance to DWP officials that no one should be sanctioned in the intervening period of being offered a job and starting work”.
“What we can see from this case is people trying hard to get back into work”, she told the Daily Record.
“So they find a job but then have the rug pulled from under their feet at the 11th hour with a sanction.
“DWP policy effectively means it is pot luck whether you get a sympathetic work coach or not. That is no way to run a social security system.”
She accused the UK Government of having an “unhealthy obsession with slapping sanctions on people”, adding:
“This unjust situation would indicate to me that the Government have a target-driven sanctions agenda.”
The Government’s controversial benefit sanction regime, which can see payments stopped for at least four weeks, has been criticised by MPs from all sides of the political spectrum.
Earlier this year, MPs from the cross-party Work and Pensions Committee called for a full independent review into the use of benefit sanctions.
A report by the Committee found evidence of sanctions being applied unfairly and often for trivial reasons, leaving vulnerable people in financial hardship and reliant on foodbanks.
MPs also said there was little evidence to suggest sanctions encourage people to look for work.
A DWP spokesman said people on Universal Credit are expected to continue fulfilling their claimant commitment, even when waiting to start a new job.
“Because universal credit is an in-work as well as an out-of-work benefit, claimants continue to be eligible for support even when they move into a job.
“Alongside this, they are expected to continue fulfilling the conditions they agreed to in their claimant commitment as long as they are receiving benefits.”
No further information was available at the time of publication.