New figures have revealed how thousands of children in Scotland are paying the price for “grossly unfair” benefit sanctions.
That was the view being expressed by Moray’s MP following revelations that a Freedom of Information request by Church Action Poverty found 3600 households with dependent children were affected directly by sanctions between June 2012 and May 2013.
Further research by the Scottish Parliament’s Information Centre now estimates that between October 2013 and September 2014, a further 3,023 households with dependent children could have been affected by an adverse Job Seekers Allowance or Employment Support Allowance sanction.
Mr Robertson said: “These figures show that thousands of children are continuing to pay the price for welfare sanctions – while I continue to see cases in my Moray Constituency Office where people who are clearly in need of urgent support are struggling to get the help they need.
“This is principally as a result of the cuts to the welfare system under the current UK Government, which is hitting the low income families and sick and disabled the hardest.
“Children cannot possibly be held responsible for whether their parents are sanctioned or not, but as things stand thousands of them are paying the price.
“It is just another example of a sanctions regime that time after time has shown itself to be grossly unfair.
“There must be an independent inquiry into Westminster’s sanctions regime that seems to be running out of control and the SNP will continue to press that case.
“Westminster’s complacent attitude to the savage welfare cuts that are inflicting such hardship on so many people underlines why we need the opportunity to make our own welfare decisions in Scotland – and electing a strong team of SNP MPs in May will help us gain that responsibility.”
In their response to the Church Action Poverty information request the Department of Work and Pensions said: “Claimants should do everything they can to find to work if they are able in return for benefits, and more than 70% say they are more likely to follow the rules if they know they risk having their benefits stopped if they don’t.
“Benefit sanctions are only used as a last resort and the overwhelming majority of claimants do not receive a sanction. The recent independent Oakley review confirmed that they are vital to a properly functioning welfare system.”