The SNP is reiterating its call for a full investigation into reports that DWP staff are pressured into applying sanctions.

New research published this week has shown that lone parents in Scotland will be around £1,800 worse off annually as a result of Westminster welfare cuts – before the impact of sanctions are even taken into account.  Research published by the Scottish Government in 2014 found that the proportion of sanctions applied to lone parents increased from 0.5 per cent in 2008/9 to 4.8 per cent in 2013/14.

The Scottish Government has already taken strong action to mitigate the impact of welfare cuts on lone parents – with figures showing that the Scottish Welfare Fund has helped more than 8,000 lone parents since 2013.

The financial loss to lone parents has also been mitigated due to Scottish Government action on Council Tax benefit cuts and the Bedroom Tax – meaning that the overall loss for lone parents in Scotland is £180 less for parents with one child and £270 less for parents with two children, compared to the UK average.

Commenting, SNP MSP Kevin Stewart said:

“Westminster’s welfare cuts are hurting families in communities across Scotland – and new figures show that lone families in particular are suffering not only from cuts but from the unfair sanctioning agenda imposed by the DWP.

“The number of sanctions being imposed on lone parent families is deeply worrying – but particularly so in the context of reports of DWP staff being pressurised into imposing sanctions. That’s why there must be an extensive independent investigation carried out into the imposition of sanctions – to examine whether staff are under pressure and to look at the impact the sanctions regime is having on vulnerable people in Scotland.

“The Scottish Government is doing all it can with the powers it currently holds to mitigate the worst excesses of Westminster’s cuts – and figures show that more than 8,000 lone parent families have been helped by the Welfare Fund why long parent families in general are at least £180 better off in Scotland than in the rest of the UK thanks to Scottish Government action.

“But it is clearly that more needs to be done to make the welfare state fair and fit for purpose.  The General Election in May is Scotland’s opportunity to hold real power at Westminster – and put an end to the unfair cuts which are hurting lone parents across Scotland and ensure full powers over welfare are in Scotland’s hands.”