SANCTIONS - SNP MP Neil Gray has urged the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to urgently publish advice for Job Centre staff and welfare claimants to avoid those affected by Coronavirus being sanctioned.
Responding to Mr Gray at Work and Pensions Questions, the Minister for Welfare Delivery, Will Quince MP, confirmed the DWP would not sanction people who are self-isolating for coronavirus and unable to attend Job Centre appointments, adding that discretion will be used by the DWP.
However, the SNP’s Work and Pensions spokesperson has said that “exercising discretion” is not good enough and that guidance must be clear for both advisers and claimants affected by Coronavirus – including those who need to self-isolate and those who need to stay at home to care for children who may be off school. He also challenged the sanctions regime – describing it as callous and punitive - on the basis that if the UK government can make allowances for Coronavirus victims then why not all welfare claimants.
SNP MP Patrick Grady also asked the UK government when it was going to publish its advice for “job seekers, advisers and for those whose job it is to scrutinise what the government is doing” and urged the DWP to be “robust in its advice” because “people aren’t going to be reassured by the idea of ‘exercising discretion’ on something so fundamental.”
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