Scottish National Party MP, Alison Thewliss, has demanded that the Department of Work & Pensions urgently close a loophole, whereby a benefit claimant, who has been offered work, can still be sanctioned for not looking for a job, even in the intervening period between being offered a job and starting work.
The Glasgow MP was prompted to write to Secretary of State, Iain Duncan Smith, after a constituent – who has chosen to remain anonymous – was sanctioned by the DWP for not looking for work in the intervening period before being offered a job and starting their new job – at the DWP of all places.
Ms Thewliss has written to the Secretary of State to demand that he issues urgent guidance to all DWP staff that sanctions shouldn’t be applied on cases such as this.
Alison Thewliss said:
“Week in, week out, I sit in the House of Commons and listen to this callous Tory Government batter on about getting people back into work, often at any cost – be that disgraceful zero hour contracts or on appalling national minimum wage rate jobs.
“What we can see from this case is people trying very hard to get back into work. So they find a job but then have the rug pulled from under their feet at the eleventh hour with a sanction.
“My parliamentary question reveals a serious discrepancy in DWP policy which 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.
“I have written to Iain Duncan Smith and demanded that he immediately issues guidance to DWP officials that no-one should be sanctioned in the intervening period of being offered a job and starting work. The UK Government need to shake off this unhealthy obsession with slapping sanctions on people who are just trying to get on in difficult times.
“It is also time to shine a very bright light back onto the wider issue of sanctions because leaked evidence from the PCS, the civil servants’ union, clearly suggests that they are in fact target driven, despite the Government’s less than convincing claims that they are not. The Secretary of State needs to come clean once and for all and he should make this government’s New Year’s resolution to ditch its unhealthy obsession with sanctions”.