Social Security Secretary for the Scottish National Party (SNP), Angela Constance, has declared that unemployed Scots will not lose welfare benefits if they fail to take part in the back-to-work scheme, The Scotsman reports.
The back-to-work scheme intends to assist the unemployed in finding work. It was introduced as an Act of Parliament in 2013, to develop skills for the unemployed.
There is a current risk that one’s benefits may be stopped or reduced if they fail to participate in the schemes. However, Scottish citizens will apparently no longer face that possibility.
On 14 November a deal with the UK Government was struck with the SNP, allowing for a devolution of power on this to Holyrood, Constance announced.
Constance told BBC Scotland that Scottish ministers “have secured agreement” that its “sanctions regime won’t apply to Scottish government employability programmes, where participation is voluntary.”
Since the UK government has devolved these powers to the Scottish Ministers, a spokesman for the Scottish Government has argued that “Scottish ministers now expect the UK government to make good on that commitment and ensure that no Jobcentre Plus clients are referred into devolved employment services on a mandatory basis.”
Adam Tomkins, the Social Security spokesman for the Scottish Conservative Party has condemned the plan. According to The Scotsman, Tomkins stated: “The hard fact is this — in order for these programmes to work for everyone the use of sanctions has to be an option, even if it’s a last resort. The SNP is being extremely naïve if it thinks otherwise.”
He further states: “…[The SNP have] spent years criticising a welfare system it barely understands, and soon it’s going to find out just how difficult developing one is.”
With nearly £2.7 billion of benefits being decentralised to the Scottish Government in the coming years, the Conservatives have argued that threats are necessary to ensure success and that all those able to work are actively seeking jobs.
Image: Chris Devers