Scottish Tories insist on continued sanctions as auditors find no evidence they work


Whitehall watchdog finds no evidence that damaging sanctions help unemployed and disabled people into work

SCOTTISH CONSERVATIVES have insisted on a continued regime of sanctions at the close of the Scottish Government’s consultation into creating a social security system, despite findings by the national audit office (NAO) that there is no evidence that they work.

Speaking to CommonSpace at an event to close the consultation, which has seen social security minister Jeane Freeman speak with organisations and stakeholder groups representing thousands of people impacted by welfare cuts, central Scotland Conservative MSP Graham Simpson said that “some form of sanctions” were necessary to “make work pay”.

The comments were made at a performance of the Purple Poncho Players (PPPs) whose musical theatre recounts experiences of discrimination and abandonment at the hands of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), which has deemed thousands of disabled people fit for work, only for them to die from their conditions thereafter.

“If you want to make work pay you have to have, in my view, some form of sanctions. I guess that’s been controversial.” Graham Simpson MSP

Millions of people have been sanctioned since 2010, throwing them into dangerous levels of poverty.

Simpson said: “If you want to make work pay you have to have, in my view, some form of sanctions. I guess that’s been controversial, but it has been necessary.”

“I think changes are necessary, things had gotten out of control, what we needed to do was make work pay.”

Wages in the UK have fallen by an unprecedented 10.4 per cent since 2007, according to the TUC.

The NAO, whitehall’s official spending watchdog, has found no evidence that sanctions help people into work, that there is no evidence they have saved money and that the regime of sanctions is implemented arbitrarily across the UK.

Graham Simpson MSP campaigning in central Scotland

In a damning report, the NAO also found that the DWP has lost contact with thousands of one-time benefit applicants it has forced out of the system, failing in its duty to administer benefits paid for by the public with their taxes.

Asked about the struggles faced by disabled people in recent years, Simpson said: “Any social security system, any welfare system that you design, there is always going to be people who are not happy with it.”

He also said he had not personally heard any complaints about welfare reforms

“The role of politicians, in my view, is to pick up on the issues that are raised with them directly. And I’m not hearing these concerns,” he said.

Simpson told CommonSpace he had decided to attend the event to hear from the experience of disabled people.

“Nothing about us, without us”: Disabled people hope for social security dawn

“I’m here to see them perform, I’m looking forward to an uplifting evening,” he added.

The PPP performance recounted actual instances of disabled people losing benefits and being verbally and physically abused. The performance ended by reminding the audience that discrimination against disabled people has resulted in violence throughout history.

When he visited the Scottish Parliament early in November, the new DWP chief Damian Green said that he stood by the sanctions regime, and that even people with long term conditions may have to be subjected to regular mandatory assessment to claim benefits.

A Scottish Conservatives spokesperson said: “Sanctions are a necessary part of any welfare system, and the SNP’s plan to have no sanctions at all is naïve and won’t work.”

Picture courtesy of Facebook

Check out what people are saying about how important CommonSpace is. Pledge your support today.