FRESH concerns over the impact of changes to the welfare system have been raised by the SNP after figures showed significant rises in the number of disabled people, women, lone parents and young people facing benefit sanctions.

Statistics from the UK Government's Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) show a 65 per cent rise in the number of disabled people receiving sanctions for jobseeker's allowance between 2009 and 2013.

The number increased from just over 8,000 in 2009, to 11,616 in 2012 when the Government introduced its new sanctions regime, and then rose again to 13,128 in 2013.

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There was also a 76 per cent increase in the number of women being sanctioned, rising from 7,914 in 2009 to 13,993 in 2013. Elsewhere there was a 563 per cent rise in the number of lone parents sanctioned, from 476 in 2009 to 3,157 in 2013.

Sanctions - the loss of some or all welfare payments - can be imposed when a recipient does not comply with the rules, such as failing to attend an interview.

SNP MSP Kevin Stewart said: "These figures show a staggering increase in the number of people being hit by Westminster's deeply unfair benefit sanctions. The welfare system should be supporting and empowering people with disabilities."

A spokesman for the DWP said: "Sanctions are only used as a last resort, but it's only right that people claiming benefits should do everything they can to find work."