Did you turn down Workfare and lose benefits? Claim them back now!

Victory at last for Cait Reilly and all the others who have been forced to work, unwaged, by the Coalition government.

Victory at last for Cait Reilly and all the others who have been forced to work, unwaged, by the Coalition government.

Unemployed people across the UK who refused to take part in the Coalition government’s slave-labour Workfare scheme – and lost benefits as a result – should now claim their money back after the Court of Appeal ruled that the scheme was unlawful.

The ruling comes after Cait Reilly won her legal challenge against the scheme, which she claimed forces people to work without pay.

Ms Reilly feels like an old friend to Vox Political, as this blog has followed her case since early last year. She is a geology graduate who had been working on a voluntary basis at a museum, to get experience necessary to win a curator’s position in the future. Then the DWP uprooted her and forced her onto Workfare, stacking shelves in Poundland – a company that can well afford to employ its own workers on full wages.

The BBC report of her victory today states that she lost her original court case, but that is not strictly true. Mr Justice Foskett found in her favour, but on the basis that she had been given wrong information that the scheme was compulsory.

At the time, the mass media, including the BBC, told us her case had failed, cherry-picking this comment from the judge: “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.”

The three judges at the Court of Appeal clearly have a different understanding of contemporary thinking as they have made it perfectly clear that the regulations governing the scheme are indeed unlawful.

This means anyone who was penalised for refusing to take part, or for leaving the scheme once they had started it and realised what it was, may now claim back the Jobseekers’ Allowance that was withdrawn from them for non-compliance.

This is a great victory for freedom and justice, a huge vindication of the Appeal court system, and a slap in the face for our dictatorial Coalition government and in particular Iain Duncan Smith, Vox‘s ‘Monster of the Year’ for 2012.

It is to be hoped that news of this victory spreads as quickly as humanly possible, and all those affected put their claims in immediately, so that the system becomes swamped by the consequences of its own crimes.

Poetic justice.

17 thoughts on “Did you turn down Workfare and lose benefits? Claim them back now!

  1. Phil The Folk

    Well the Government has just responded on the BBC news that this isnt going to happen and it will be business as usual!! Above the law I suppose!!!

    1. Mike Sivier

      It’s a ruling by the Court of Appeal and is therefore legally binding. I suppose the government can appeal but in the meantime I would still urge everybody who has been harmed by this pernicious scheme to get busy, claim back the cash they lost, and create as much fuss about it as possible.

  2. Mike Sivier

    Here’s the DWP’s official response:

    Responding to today’s Court of Appeal judgment on Government employment schemes, Minister for Employment, Mark Hoban, said:
    “The court has backed our right to require people to take part in programmes which will help get them into work. It’s ridiculous to say this is forced labour. This ruling ensures we can continue with these important schemes.
    “We are however disappointed and surprised at the court’s decision on our regulations. There needed to be flexibility so we could give people the right support to meet their needs and get them into a job. We do not agree with the court’s judgment and are seeking permission to appeal, but new regulations will be tabled to avoid any uncertainty.
    “Ultimately the judgment confirms that it is right that we expect people to take getting into work seriously if they want to claim benefits.”

    My immediate reaction is to question whether Mr Hoban understands Ms Reilly’s situation at all. She was, in fact, taking her search for employment extremely seriously, and was carrying out voluntary work that would have led to the job she wanted when the DWP plucked her out and forced her to do menial work in Poundland instead.
    It is therefore Mr Hoban’s department that has behaved frivolously, by uprooting Ms Reilly and upsetting her reasonable plans.
    In such circumstances, it is right that the Workfare scheme should be described as forced labour. The DWP should have examined this jobseeker’s circumstances, accepted that she was on course for a job in the career of her choice, and let her get on with it. She was already carrying out unpaid work, so was already doing her bit to boost the economy.
    Hoban describes these schemes as important, and they are. They’re important to the companies that use people on Workfare, because those people aren’t a burden on their profits. They’re important to the government, because they provide an opportunity to knock jobseekers off the benefit books for the period of their placements. To anyone else, they are nothing but another unnecessary hindrance.

    1. Bill Kruse

      May I point out you don’t do anything for the economy except damage it by working for free. No taxes get paid, no wages can be spent. The more people are working for no return, the smaller the economy becomes. This is less than helpful when everyone is crying out for growth.

      1. Mike Sivier

        I’d say you’re right in the case of Workfare; the kind of voluntary work Ms Reilly was originally doing, I would say, is good for the economy because it both keeps the organisation she was helping in business and provides her with the experience she needs to help her in her later career.

  3. Paul Jordan

    good on you cait for fighting them and good on you mike for helping to spread the word, a bit of good news met by predictable tory arrogance and denial.

  4. Silver

    If George Ian Duncan Smith was a Honourable Man,he would of course resign.But the Biggest scrounger of Taxpayers Money,Propaganda Smith,does not do Honour.You only have to look at his CV that he lied on,to realise this.

  5. kittysjonesk

    It’s important to see the disticntion made in the ruling, and that the Judge did not say that the workfare schemes breach Article 4. The ruling was regarding the mandatory requirement, and the way that claimants were not informed adequately

    Steve Conlay, a legal assistant at Cheltenham law firm BPE Solicitors LLP, said: “Whilst the judgment handed down today may provide relief for those currently being encouraged into the Government’s back to work scheme, it is not all good news for job seekers.
    “In their judgment, the court criticised the Government for not providing jobseekers with enough information on the schemes and the penalties jobseekers would face if they refused to enter such schemes. It was for this reason that the “back to work strategy” was deemed unlawful.
    “The court however did offer encouragement to the Government by stating that the creation of such schemes were within the Government’s right, and with the correct amendments such schemes would be lawful.

    Read more: http://www.thisisgloucestershire.co.uk/High-Court-ruling-allow-Cheltenham-job-seekers/story-18126962-detail/story.html#ixzz2KheC0soC

    1. Bill Kruse

      IDS appears to have exceeded his brief here. The message we should take away is the courtts don’t like this, and look for other instances when he’s done it with a view to bringing them to the court’s attention. I’m sure there will be more. The DWP’s been out of control, making it up as it goes along, for years.

  6. kittysjonesk

    We know that workfare schemes are actually worse than nothing in terms of employment prospects. We know that they are NOT AT ALL designed to support unemployed people, but they benefit only businesses They also cause further unemployment because businesses replace paid staff with workfare labour, and profit from that. I am very disappointed that the Judge didn’t find the schemes in breach of Article 4. But he did say they only barely conformed. Just.

  7. colin

    the dwp has said it isnt going to pay people back and the government have already changed what it needs to so its all still on, we will work for nothing and if we dont we will get no benefits so what victory is everyone shouting about?

    1. Ghost Whistler

      Quite. It’s business as usual as far as this government are concerned. They haven’t been given the bloody nose they need and they certainly haven’t been chastened.

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