Speaking in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday [31ST MARCH], Highlands and Islands MSP Emma Roddick backed the call by a cross-party group of MSPs on the UK Government’s Department of Work and Pensions to share anonymised data on benefits sanctions with a team of University of Glasgow-based researchers.

Roddick, who herself has experience of living on benefits, said that “the sanctions situation is so bad that the DWP won’t even tell us how bad” and that the UK Government must intervene in order to guarantee transparency.

Commenting after the debate, Roddick said:

“This refusal to share sanctions data is yet another fundamentally dishonest act by the inhumane machinery of the Department of Work and Pensions.

“The Tories would try to reassure us by saying that sanctions aren’t carried out liberally, that they are a targeted intervention not applied to all. That is just not good enough. I frankly don’t care whether someone has missed a job interview for a reason not deemed “good enough” – there is no good reason to deny people money to buy food and pay rent, which is what benefits sanctions do.

“It is paramount that the DWP listens to reason and shares their data on sanctions with these researchers so that we may begin to understand just how many lives their policies have ruined.”