Govt work scheme 'lawful'

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".

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Tory MPs welcome High Court ruling on work scheme

Government to appeal ruling on letters to jobseekers

A judge at the High Court has upheld the legality of the Government's back-to-work scheme, but raised concerns about the letters it sends to jobseekers.

These letters are used to warn claimants that they may lose their benefits if they fail to participate in the schemes without good reason.

Jobseekers face a potential loss of their benefits if they turn down the work scheme without good reason Credit: Ben Birchall/PA

A spokeswoman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: "We do not believe there is anything wrong with the original letters and we will appeal this aspect of the judgment, but in the meantime we have revised our standard letters."


Govt: Comparing work scheme to slavery is 'ridiculous'

A spokeswoman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: "We are delighted, although not surprised, that the judge agrees our schemes are not forced labour.

"Comparing our initiatives to slave labour is not only ridiculous but insulting to people around the world facing real oppression.

The headquarters of the Department for Work and Pensions Credit: Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA Archive/Press Association Images

"Thousands of young people across the country are taking part in our schemes and gaining the vital skills and experience needed to help them enter the world of work - it is making a real difference to people's lives.

"Those who oppose this process are actually opposed to hard work and they are harming the life chances of unemployed young people who are trying to get on."

Jobseekers' lawyers to seek to appeal ruling

The legal firm representing the two claimants who took the Government to court over the back-to-work scheme has said it will seek to appeal today's ruling:

Today’s decision should mean that many of those subjected to benefit sanctions will be entitled to reimbursement by the Department of Work and Pensions. It is truly extraordinary that the Government has found itself in this position by failing to provide basic information to those affected. We welcome the Court’s ruling on this issue but we continue to maintain that the Regulations themselves are unlawful and ought to be quashed. We are seeking permission to appeal the Court’s findings in this regard.

– Tessa Gregory, Public Interest Lawyers

Judge rules that back-to-work scheme is not 'slavery'

Mr Justice Foskett, sitting at the High Court in London today, said that "characterising such a scheme as involving or being analogous to 'slavery' or 'forced labour' seems to me to be a long way from contemporary thinking".

He said that both of the claimants were entitled to a declaration that there had been breaches of the 2011 jobseeker's allowance regulations in their cases.

But he ruled that the mistakes did not invalidate the 2011 jobseeker's allowance regulations, nor did they breach human rights laws banning slavery.

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:

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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