The scandal of the Tories’ universal credit sanctions

The UK Government’s universal credit system has been deeply flawed since its disastrous roll-out began – and all of the evidence shows it is actively harmful to claimants. The reality is, that this austerity obsessed Tory Government is driving more people, particularly children, into poverty with policies like this.

In the past week, it was revealed the proportion of claimants sanctioned under universal credit is nearly 10 times higher than under jobseeker’s allowance (JSA), and nearly 30 times higher than employment and support allowance (ESA).

With financial support being shamefully pulled from claimants who have already faced delays in Universal Credit, as well as the direct link between people who have been sanctioned and the rise in foodbank use and poverty, the UK government is pushing people into crisis. It needs to stop.

The benefit sanctions statistics report also showed the average universal credit sanction lasts for longer than JSA and ESA sanctions. The high sanctions rate shines a light on the worrying direction the Department for Work and Pensions are heading towards under the Tories – increasingly driven by a policy of punishing people, rather than recognising and addressing fears.

That is why my colleague Neil Gray has written to DWP Secretary of State Esther McVey, demanding answers as to why more claimants are being sanctioned under universal credit than under the legacy benefits it is replacing.

The SNP have long opposed the Tories’ brutal sanctions regime. It is cruel, counter-productive and attacks some of the most vulnerable people in society.