Proposals to reform controversial benefits sanctions have failed to progress despite warnings claimants face a "postcode lottery" that sees some fall into poverty and hunger.

SNP MP Mhairi Black wants a law change to ensure the process for deciding if sanctions should be applied is governed by "clear cut rules".

The Work and Pensions Committee member said jobcentre staff do a "tremendous job given the system they have to work with".

Read more: Chancellor Philip Hammond dashes First Minister Nicola Sturgeon's hope of Scottish Brexit deal

But she said her proposals recognise everyone has "bad" or "grumpy" days and would seek to prevent the mood of staff, or other factors, from "ruining someone else's day".

A consultation with more than 9,000 responses has taken place as part of work behind Ms Black's Benefit Claimants Sanctions (Required Assessment) Bill.

Among the proposals is a "code of conduct" to set out the procedure for assessments, including how a claimant's caring responsibilities, mental and physical health plus housing situation are considered.

It also seeks to make changes to the Universal Credit system.

Read more: SNP MP Mhairi Black demands clearer rules on benefit sanction decisions amid 'postcode lottery' claims

Ms Black said "formal written advice" which people can "fully understand" is still needed to help people understand their "claimant commitment" - which outlines what they will be required to do in return for receiving Universal Credit.

Moving the Bill's second reading, Ms Black (Paisley and Renfrewshire South) said: "While I, and I imagine my colleagues, would want to get rid of the sanctions regime altogether because we disagree with it, I'm trying to use this private member's bill to make a genuine small change that the Government can hopefully get on board with."

Ms Black said there is a "dramatic variation" throughout the UK as to how many sanctions are applied and why, with pressure on jobcentre staff and a lack of clear instructions available to them.

She said: "This creates a postcode lottery of sorts. It creates a situation whereby how you're treated is completely dependent on where your assigned jobcentre happens to be in, who you happen to get as your work coach, and what mood they happen to be in."

Read more: Chancellor Philip Hammond dashes First Minister Nicola Sturgeon's hope of Scottish Brexit deal

Ms Black said the sanctions regime has left some people reliant on foodbanks to get by.

She said: "I think that the idea that individuals and citizens in our society are reliant solely on the charity of others to eat and to feed their children shows the backwards way and the backwards hell we are sliding into."

Fellow SNP MP Chris Law (Dundee West) compared the sanctions system to Dickensian England.

He said: "The UK Government's current benefits sanctions, let's make no mistake, it's a regime which is brutally draconian and undignified.

"An individual can be sanctioned so heavily they may have nothing left to feed themselves or their family, in effect becoming destitute through state-sponsored starvation."

Department for Work and Pensions Minister Damian Hinds said there is a "considered and fair approach" in the benefits system and sanctions are not imposed lightly.

He said: "A significant proportion of the measures proposed in this Bill are measures which the department already undertakes through guidance.

"For example, the department ensures that health issues, caring responsibilities and homelessness are noted and taken into account when dealing with claimants."

He said a claimant's circumstances are always considered before any sanction is imposed.

The Bill was talked out in the Commons.

Ms Black asked for the debate to be continued on February 24, but it is unlikely to be given further time to progress through the Commons.