I, Daniel Blake director Ken Loach backs MP Mhairi Black's bid to reform benefits sanctions

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Award-winning film director Ken Loach has backed a bid to reform the benefits sanctions system.

SNP MP Mhairi Black has put forward a Private Member's Bill which, if passed, would being in a new code of conduct for Jobcentre staff across the UK, requiring them to take individual circumstances into account before a sanction is issued.

Ken, whose most recent film I, Daniel Blake focuses on life on benefits and won the Palme d'Or prize at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, has urged other MPs to support her proposals.

Black, 22, toppled Labour's then shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander to win the Paisley and Renfrewshire South seat in 2015, becoming the youngest MP for centuries.

She said: "The benefit sanctions regime is deeply flawed and the SNP has long called for a full and independent review of the entire system.

"My Private Member's Bill - which will be debated on Friday - will introduce a code of conduct for all Jobcentres across the UK that would make it compulsory for advisers to take a claimant's personal circumstances into account before issuing a sanction."

Mhairi Black
(Danny Lawson/PA)

"For example, advisers would need to consider whether a person is at risk of homelessness, whether they have caring responsibilities or a mental health condition that could be exacerbated further if their benefits were to be sanctioned.

"It is a small ask and unfortunately I can't use a Private Member's Bill to scrap the sanctions completely, but hopefully, with the support of MPs across the House of Commons, I'll be able to make a real difference to the lives of thousands of people across the UK."