Ruling on back-to-work schemes
The Supreme Court rules on the legality of Government 'back to work' schemes at the centre of the high-profile Poundland case
The Supreme Court rules today on the legality of Government "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.
The schemes were condemned by critics a s ''slave labour'' because they involved work without pay and cuts in jobseeker's allowance for those who failed to comply with the rules.
S upporters welcomed them as a good way of getting the unemployed back into the world of work.
But appeal 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.
The appeal 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.
Lawyers for the pair said the immediate effect of the ruling was that all applicants who had their jobseeker's allowance withdrawn for non-compliance with the schemes were entitled to reclaim their allowance.
The Government took the case to the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land, while at the same time fast-tracking retrospective legislation, the Jobseekers (Back to Work Schemes) Act, through Parliament.
Public Interest Lawyers (PIL) said the Government aim was to retrospectively "make lawful what the appeal court declared unlawful" in order to avoid a multimillion-pound bill in pay-outs to individuals who had been unlawfully sanctioned.
A separate legal challenge has been lodged over the new legislation, which has been stayed pending determination of today's appeal.