A mother from Fife was left without money for a month because she stopped to take her four-year-old daughter to the toilet, making her 10 minutes late for an appointment.
The heartless benefit sanction has left a struggling mother unable to pay heating bills and relying on a food bank to feed her children.
Children’s charity Barnardo’s revealed the mum’s plight but have kept her personal details private.
Barnardo’s Mark Ballard said: “She was without money for four weeks and was unable to purchase fuel cards for her gas and electricity meters or feed her children.
A number of other household bills went unpaid and she had to borrow money from friends and relatives to survive. This put her further into debt and damaged relationships with people who were previously supportive.”
The Scottish Welfare Committee are investigating the impact of Tory welfare reforms on women. MSPs will hear from 12 charities and groups including Barnardo’s, the Scottish Refugee Council, Women’s Aid and the Scottish TUC.
About 20 per cent of women’s income comes from the benefits and tax credit system – compared with 10 per cent for men – according to a study by the Fawcett Society.
Since 2010, £26billion of cuts have been made to benefits, tax credits, pay and pensions. About 85 per cent of those cuts were taken from women’s incomes.
Pregnant women are also being penalised by the sanctions regime, according to charity One Parent Families Scotland.
Clare Adamson, a member of the welfare committee, said: “There needs to be an immediate review of the UK Government’s conditionality and sanctions regime.
The Department for Work and Pensions should not be allowed to impose any more unfair sanctions on vulnerable people. We need the power to put a stop to this relentless assault on vulnerable people and to design a new and better system.”
The UK Government have repeatedly denied claims that welfare advisers are encouraged to hit sanctions targets.
A spokesman added: “Sanctions are only used as a last resort for the tiny minority who refuse to take up the support which is on offer.”
That is clearly NOT the case here. A mother taking a child to the toilet, and being late for an appointment is not someone refusing to “take up the support on offer,” nor was this sanction applied as “a last resort.”
This would hardly pass a test of reasonableness.
Scottish Tory welfare spokesman Alex Johnstone said: “Our welfare reform measures have worked in reducing poverty by getting people off benefits and back to work.”
I don’t believe that depriving mothers and their children of their lifeline benefit, which was originally calculated to meet basic and essential survival costs can ever be considered to be “reducing poverty” or helping this person into work. In fact it’s obvious to most people that such a callous act is likely to do the exact opposite.
There is now a large amount of evidence indicating that sanctions are most often applied in an arbitrary and extremely unfair way, plunging families into severe poverty, with devastating effects on people’s health and well-being.