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Jobseekers' claims of 'forced labour' rejected

Two jobseekers' claims that the Government's back-to-work scheme amounts to "forced labour" have been rejected by the High Court. Their cases were as follows:

  • Cait Reilly, a 23-year-old geology graduate, says she was made to do "unpaid menial work" at Poundland without any training or a job interview at the end.
  • Jamieson Wilson, a 40-year-old unemployed HGV driver, says he faces losing benefits for six months after refusing to undertake 30 hours' unpaid work a week for up to six months cleaning furniture.

What is the back-to-work scheme?

The Back-to-work scheme was launch in June last year by the Department for Work and Pensions.

It provides unpaid work experience and training for people who have been unemployed for long periods. The Government says it provides the skills and experience people need to find employment.

A number of approved providers in the private and voluntary sectors are able to claim money from the Government if they are able to get the unemployed back to work.

The scheme has been controversial because it allows benefits to be docked if jobseekers refuse to join the scheme, or quit before it is finished. There is more information at:

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Back-to-work scheme ruled lawful in High Court

The Government's back-to-work schemes were ruled lawful by the High Court in London today. The scheme has been criticised as "forced labour".

Cait Reilly, 23, and Jamieson Wilson, 40, were both seeking the quashing of Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) regulations under which the back-to-work schemes were set up.

They are also applying for declarations that there have been violations of article four of the European Convention on Human Rights, which prohibits forced labour and slavery.

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