The Glasgow-based director of a firm implementing the UK Government's welfare-to-work scheme has said he supports taking money away from single parents and disabled people if they fail to meet the conditions of the programme.

Nicholas Young, whose firm Working Links has a £167 million contract to find jobs for people on the Department for Work and Pensions' (DWP) Work Programme, said conditionality - also known as benefit sanctions - "has had a really positive impact over a number of years".

He said he was "not unmoved" by the "plight" of his clients who have had their benefits reduced or stopped, but backed conditionality as a way "encouraging active participation".

His evidence to Holyrood's Welfare Reform Committee was at odds with other witnesses, including the director of another DWP contractor.

Paul de Pellette, director of fellow Work Programme contractor Ingeus, said sanctions were a "disincentive" to building trust.

Contractors delivering the DWP's voluntary disability employment scheme Work Choice also warned the UK Government's decision to devolve the employment schemes to Holyrood but keep the responsibility for implementing sanctions was a recipe for confusion.

SNP MSP Joan McAlpine said the Work Programme contractors appeared "unmoved" by research which found people on the work programme "are three times as likely to be sanctioned than find a job".

Mr Young said: "I am absolutely not unmoved at all. The plight and the personal circumstances of our customers is incredibly important to us."

He added: "I support the principle of conditionality as a way of encouraging active participation.

"Single parents have long had conditionality attached to their benefits regime. I think it has had a really positive impact over a number of years.

"Again, some disabled people will have conditionality attached to their benefits regime. I support the role of conditionality."

Mr de Pellette said: "If you're an employment adviser working in the Work Programme, one of the most important things to have is to build trust and rapport with the people that are coming through the door.

"Therefore, the sanctions regime in some regards could be viewed as a disincentive for that because the reality is you want to have trust and rapport."

SNP MSP Kevin Stewart asked witnesses if they support the UK Government's decision to keep responsibility for implementing benefit sanctions.

Tanya Gilchrist, head of operations in Scotland for Work Choice contractor Shaw Trust, said: "I certainly think it is going to cause confusion.

"We are already talking about people who are dissatisfied with the service delivery, that they are making noises about what their needs might be.

"They probably need support, and to have reserved and devolved rules potentially affecting people that we are talking about could cause confusion and more dissatisfaction."

Alistair Kerr, head of quality and contract compliance at Work Choice contractor Momentum Scotland, said: "I agree with what Tanya said.

"Any performance contracts have to have elements of conditionality to them, but if that is to the detriment of the most vulnerable across the UK then surely that should not be a model that should be adopted by the Scottish Government."

Kate Still, co-chair of employment agency umbrella body Employment Support Scotland, said: "We actually advocated for the devolution of Jobcentre Plus and all levers related to this in Scotland, because we think it would work better."

She agreed that the "illogical" mix of devolved and reserved welfare functions will be a recipe for confusion.

Mr Young said: "I'm more interested in what powers we have and how we can make the most of those powers coming across."