Gavin Newlands highlights Oxford study tying benefit sanctions to food bank use


Gavin Newlands, MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, has highlighted a report from the University of Oxford which found a link between increases in the number of benefit sanctions handed out by the DWP and rising number of adults receiving food parcels – offering further proof of the deeply damaging impact of Tory welfare policies. The study found a direct relationship between the numbers of sanctions and the level of referrals to food banks – yet more evidence of what the report calls a “strong, dynamic relationship” between the two. This is the second report in as many weeks which further debunks the Tory government’s claims that sanctions somehow “incentivise” claimants in their search for work. The Scottish Government continues to mitigate against the negative impact of Tory welfare policies which lead to hardship. As well as spending £100 million a year through their welfare mitigation funding, the Scottish Government has established a £1 million fair food fund – and continues to take a strong stance on sanctions, opposing the deeply damaging policies of the DWP. The Scottish Government has announced that its employability support programmes will be voluntary and treat people with dignity and respect and that they will work to ensure people are not sanctioned by the DWP when on those programmes. Commenting, Gavin Newlands MP, said: “This report confirms once again that the Tory policy of benefit sanctions is deeply harmful to the most vulnerable people in society and drives more individuals and families to food banks. It makes clear that cutting people’s benefits will not incentivise people to find employment, but leads to poverty and hunger instead. “It is absolutely shameful that anyone in Renfrewshire, in a wealthy country such as Scotland, needs to rely on food banks, and the Tory policy of cutting benefits and sanctioning people at every opportunity is the driving force behind this. The sad reality of this can also be seen in Ken Loach’s new film I, Daniel Blake, which has opened viewers’ eyes to the cruelty of the UK welfare system. “Although the Scottish Government is working hard to protect people on the new employability support programmes, committing £100 million a year to the welfare mitigation fund and establishing a £1 million fair food fund, it remains up to the Tories at Westminster to bring an end to their regressive sanctions policy and reverse the damage done. “We’ve seen food bank use rise across the UK from 40,898 in 2009-2010 to over 1 million in 2015-16. The Tory government stands guilty of inflicting the most damaging policies imaginable on its citizens – and it is time for them to end their failed ideological sanctions regime once and for all.”

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