So what happens next with welfare?

Thumb_laura-kuenssberg
Cait Reilly speaks outside court after winning her Court of Appeal claim
Cait Reilly speaks outside court after winning her claim Photo: ITV News

Cait Reilly has won her case at the High court, making some campaigners cheer this afternoon, claiming somehow this will be the end of the government's welfare to work schemes.

She's just told me that she is 'really, really pleased', and hopes that the ruling will help the many thousands of people "who are in the kind of situation that I was in".

She denies her legal appeal was based on snobbery, because she did not want to work in Poundland. In fact, she says she is now working in a supermarket part time.

And in theory, she told me, she doesn't believe there is much wrong with asking benefit claimants to do some kind of activity in return for money from the taxpayer.

What she does however reject is the concept of someone being asked to do something that they are not interested in that won't help them find work in their chosen career.

When Reilly was forced to take up a placement at Poundland, she had to give up work experience at her local museum which she says, would have helped her towards the kind of job she wanted. That was what she found 'upsetting and frustrating'.

Poundland sign
Reilly was forced to give up work experience to take up a placement at Poundland. Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Archive/Press Association Images

But it is unclear what the ruling will actually mean.

Reilly's lawyer is certain that many thousands of people who had their benefits docked if they refused to take part in a Welfare to Work scheme, will be able to claim the cash back.

But government ministers are also adamant that this will not happen. It is likely to take another court case to decide who is right on this.

For their part, the judges who made the ruling were clear that in their view, there is nothing wrong with the principle of asking benefit claimants to undertake some kind of work in return for money from the taxpayer.

They also rejected the idea that government schemes are a infringement of individuals' human rights. But they did find that the regulations that were written to determine how some of the schemes work in 2011 were not up to scratch and therefore the schemes were unlawful.

Government lawyers are now working furiously to rewrite those rules and will appeal the judgement.

But it will be some time before it's possible to say categorically if their efforts are enough to stop an embarrassing and expensive trail of benefits claimants trying to get cash back.

At the very least, the case does not exactly inspire confidence in the government department that is trying to drive through some of the coalition's biggest reforms.