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Supreme Court finds work schemes legally flawed

The Government's 'back-to-work' schemes at the centre of the high-profile Poundland case were legally flawed, the UK's highest court ruled today.

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith failed in a Supreme Court bid to overturn an earlier ruling that 2011 regulations underpinning the schemes were invalid.

Five Supreme Court justices upheld a Court of Appeal decision which went against the Government in February.

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Court of Appeal's 'back-to-work' schemes ruling

The Court of Appeal ruled that regulations underpinning the Government's "back-to-work" schemes were legally flawed.

Judges Lord Justice Pill, Lady Justice Black and Sir Stanley Burnton unanimously agreed in a judgment in February this year that the 2011 "work for your benefits" regulations failed to give the unemployed enough information, especially about the sanctions for refusing jobs under the schemes.

Cait Reilly challenged having to work for free at a Poundland discount store. Credit: Cathy Gordon/PA Archive

The ruling was a victory for university graduate Cait Reilly, 24, from Birmingham, who challenged having to work for free at a local Poundland discount store.

It was also a victory for 40-year-old unemployed HGV driver Jamieson Wilson, from Nottingham, who objected to doing unpaid work cleaning furniture and as a result was stripped of his jobseeker's allowance for six months.

Supreme Court to rule on 'back-to-work' schemes

The UK's Supreme Court is set to rule today on the legality of the Government's "back-to-work" schemes at the centre of the high-profile Poundland case.

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith is attempting to overturn a Court of Appeal ruling that regulations underpinning the schemes were legally flawed.

University graduate Cait Reilly challenged having to work for free at a Poundland discount store.. Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire/Press Association Images

The schemes were condemned by critics as ''slave labour'' because they involved work without pay and cuts in jobseeker's allowance for those who failed to comply with the rules.

University graduate Cait Reilly, 24, from Birmingham, and 40-year-old unemployed HGV driver Jamieson Wilson, from Nottingham, had both succeeded in their claims that the unpaid schemes were legally flawed.

IDS criticises those who are 'too good to stack shelves'

The work and pensions secretary has criticised people "who think they're too good" to stack supermarket shelves. Iain Duncan Smith said many "smart people" overlooked the importance of effective shelf-stacking.

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith Credit: Jeff Overs/BBC/PA Wire

Geology graduate Cait Reilly recently won a legal victory over the government's back-to-work scheme. But the Mr Duncan Smith warned against assuming that geology was more important than supermarket work

He said: "I understand she said she wasn't paid. She was paid jobseeker's allowance, by the taxpayer, to do this. I'm sorry, but there is a group of people out there who think they're too good for this kind of stuff."

"Let me remind you that [former Tesco chief executive] Terry Leahy started his life stacking shelves."

The next time somebody goes in - those smart people who say there's something wrong with this - they go into their supermarket, ask themselves this simple question.

"When they can't find the food they want on the shelves, who is more important - them, the geologist, or the person who stacked the shelves?"

He was speaking on BBC1's Andrew Marr Show.

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Poundland ruling 'should mean end of working for free'

Today's rulings in the Cait Reilly and Jamie Wilson cases should mean the end of working without pay, according to the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) Union.

The Union said it welcomed the Court of Appeal judgement and agreed Ms Reilly was unlawfully forced to work for no wages.

This is a very significant ruling that we believe supports what we have said all along, that no one should be forced to work without pay.

The government can not continue to help private companies and charities to exploit people who are out of work, and these schemes must surely now be scrapped and the work brought back in-house.

– PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka
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