Government workfare scheme to continue despite legal challenge

THE GOVERNMENT yesterday lost a legal challenge to a controversial scheme that required jobseekers to work for free or risk losing their benefits – but insisted that the scheme will continue.

Judges at the Supreme Court ruled that the back to work scheme was legally flawed because jobseekers were not given enough information.

Geology graduate Cait Reilly had claimed that forcing her to stop volunteering in a museum and start working unpaid in Poundland during 2011 breached her human rights.

The court concluded that – while there were major issues with the regulations used to implement the policy – the scheme was not “forced labour”.

But the government insisted it has since changed relevant parts of legislation and dealt with many of the issues, meaning the scheme can continue.

“We have always said that it was ridiculous to say that our schemes amounted to forced labour, and yet again we have won this argument,” said work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith.

“Ultimately this judgment confirms that it is right that we expect people to take getting into work seriously if they want to claim benefits.”

Reilly, who now works in a supermarket, told the BBC that the old system had been unfair. “It must be time for the government to rethink its strategy and actually do something constructive to help lift people out of unemployment and poverty,” she said.