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Court of Appeal rules unpaid schemes unlawful

15 February 2013

Two appellants have argued successfully that the Government’s back to work schemes were legally flawed.

Caitlin Reilly, who did voluntary work at a museum as she was interested in getting into the sector, was advised she would lose her Job Seekers Allowance if she did not undertake unpaid work at Poundland.

Former HGV driver Jamieson Wilson, who had been out of work since 2008, was required to do 30 hours unpaid work a week for six months distributing renovated furniture. He objected as his work needs had not been considered but was advised he would lose his benefits.

A policy that aims to ensure the unemployed are actively seeking employment and applies sanctions where there is lack of co-operation will save public money. However, such schemes should assist with career development and be clear about the obligations involved. The loss of benefits can cause hardship so it is right these schemes should be authorised by Parliament. The DWP is considering an appeal and new regulations.

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