PEOPLE across Renfrewshire are being urged to have their say on benefit rules that have been blamed for leaving many families facing hardship.

Mhairi Black, MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South, has launched a public consultation on her Private Member’s Bill which seeks to establish a code of conduct for the UK Government’s sanctions regime.

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The proposed legislation, which will be debated in the Houses of Commons next month, would require Jobcentre advisers across the UK to take into account a person’s circumstances before issuing a sanction and cutting off their financial support.

HeraldScotland:

Ms Black said she chose to introduce the bill after hearing from many of her constituents who had suffered hardship as a result of an unfair sanction.

“If I could eradicate benefits sanctions entirely so that no-one would have to endure the misery of having their financial support unfairly or suddenly cut off, I would," said Ms Black. "Unfortunately, I can’t do that but I’m determined to really make a difference with this bill.

“Sanctions are when an individual’s support is suddenly withdrawn because one of a number of strict and ludicrous conditions are not met. If a parent misses an appointment at the jobcentre because they were at a child’s sick bed, it doesn’t matter - they will still have their support withdrawn.

“Evidence shows this leads to increased use of foodbanks, as well as huge amounts of stress on individuals and their families, and that is simply not acceptable.

“My bill will introduce a process of assessing a person’s circumstances such as their caring commitments, whether they are at risk of homelessness or whether they suffer from a mental ill-health condition that could be exacerbated by a sanction.

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“But I know my bill may not be perfect and so I want to hear from you - about whether you agree that there should be a code of conduct for all Jobcentres to adhere to and should those with particular vulnerabilities, at the very least be shielded from this punitive regime?

“Please go to the SNP’s website or use the links on the SNP’s Facebook and Twitter accounts to fill out the survey on my bill so that together - if the UK Government’s sanctions regime has to exist - we can make it a little bit fairer for everyone.”