Ipswich Unemployed Action.

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Cait Reilly and Jamieson Wilson: Court Rules Workfare Unlawful.

with 53 comments

Workfare ruled illegal?

The Court of Appeal has ruled university graduate Cait Reilly’s claim that requiring her to work for free at a Poundland discount store was unlawful.

Three judges in London ruled that the regulations under which most of the Government’s back-to-work schemes were created are unlawful and quashed them.
24-year-old Cait Reilly has won her Court of Appeal claim in court. 24-year-old Cait Reilly has won her Court of Appeal claim in court.

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

Their solicitors said later the ruling means “all those people who have been sanctioned by having their jobseekers’ allowance withdrawn for non-compliance with the back-to-work schemes affected will be entitled to reclaim their benefits”. More here.

Hat-tip  Gissajob

And – smashing a hole in plans to make Workfare (Community Action Programme) compulsory for the long-term unemployed –  this!

“A graduate who was forced to work at Poundland for free has won an appeal, in a major blow for the Government’s back-to-work schemes.

Cait Reilly, 24, from Birmingham, had argued that being made to work in the discount shop for nothing while she looked for a permanent job was illegal.

Jamieson Wilson, 40, an unemployed HGV driver from Nottingham who was stripped of jobseeker’s allowance for refusing an unpaid cleaning role, also won his legal challenge.

Lord Justice Pill, Lady Justice Black and Sir Stanley Burnton, sitting in London, agreed the regulations behind most of the back-to-work schemes were unlawful and quashed them.

The pair’s solicitors said the ruling meant anyone docked jobseekers’ allowance for not complying with the schemes could demand the money back.

Miss Reilly was forced to leave her voluntary post at a museum to work unpaid at Poundland in Kings Heath, Birmingham, in November 2011 under a scheme known as the “sector-based work academy”.

She was told she would lose jobseekers’ allowance if she refused and spent two weeks stacking shelves and cleaning floors.

Mr Wilson, a qualified mechanic, was told that he had to work unpaid, cleaning furniture for 30 hours a week for six months, under a scheme called the community action programme.

He objected to doing unpaid work that would not help him re-enter the jobs market and refused, leading to him losing jobseekers’ allowance for six months.

Following the ruling, Miss Reilly said: “I don’t think I am above working in shops like Poundland. I now work part time in a supermarket. It is just that I expect to get paid for working.

“I hope the Government will now take this opportunity to rethink its strategy and do something which actually builds on young unemployed people’s skills and tackles the causes of long-term unemployment.

“I agree we need to get people back to work but the best way of doing that is by helping them, not punishing them.”

Law firm Public Interest Lawyers, which represented both claimants, said the decision was a “huge setback” for the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).

Solicitor Tessa Gregory said the judgment had sent Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith “back to the drawing board” to come up with new regulations.

“Until that time, nobody can be lawfully forced to participate in schemes affected such as the work programme and the community action programme,” she said.

She claimed the case had shown that the DWP was “going behind Parliament’s back” and failing to seek proper approval for mandatory work schemes.

Employment minister Mark Hoban pointed out that judges had agreed requiring people to join the schemes was legal, meaning they could continue.

He said there would be an appeal against the ruling of unlawful regulations, 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,” Mr Hoban added.


It is to be noted that the reason the appeals won is because of a “lack of information” given to the people forced onto these schemes.

The principle of workfare – work for benefits – itself was not ruled unlawful. 

Mandatory Work Activity continues unaffected by this judgement.


53 Responses

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  1. What Next?

    Tessa Gregory, solicitor, Public Interest Lawyers states:

    “Today’s judgment sends Iain Duncan Smith back to the drawing board to make fresh Regulations which are fair and comply with the Court’s ruling. Until that time nobody can be lawfully forced to participate in schemes affected such as the Work Programme and the Community Action Programme. All of those who have been stripped of their benefits have a right to claim the money back that has been unlawfully taken away from them from the DWP.

    The case has revealed that the Department of Work and Pensions was going behind Parliament’s back and failing to obtain Parliamentary approval for the various mandatory work schemes that it was introducing. It also reveals a lack of transparency and fairness in the implementation of these schemes. The Claimants had no information about what could be required of them under the back to work schemes. The Court of Appeal has affirmed the basic constitutional principle that everyone has a right to know and understand why sanctions are being the threatened and imposed against them”


    Obi Wan Kenobi

    February 12, 2013 at 1:33 pm

  2. I suspect this will only be a (very) short-lived victory for us as IDS and his apparatchiks in the DWP will never rest until they’ve got this decision reversed, or failing that gone “back to the drawing board to come up with new regulations”.

    The Tories, like their plutocrat masters, are utterly ruthless and vengeful when when it comes to getting their own back on the working class whenever they’ve suffered a defeat at their hands. (Remember what happened to the miners for daring to stand up to them?)

    Still, I’d like to nominate Cait Reilly for working-class hero of the year – she fully deserves it.


    February 12, 2013 at 1:40 pm

  3. Iain Duncan Smith, Mark Hoban, Lord Fraud and Chris Grayling should all now be sacked as it’s now abundantly clear they have all exceeded the powers given to them and have gone behind paliaments back rgarding the Work Programme, Community Action Programme, sanctions, referrals etc.

    Obi Wan Kenobi

    February 12, 2013 at 1:42 pm

  4. I don’ tthink they have ruled the schemes illegal, just the handling. The government aren’t going to stop forcing people. This is a very hollow victory.

    Ghost Whistler

    February 12, 2013 at 1:58 pm

    • They went wrong by making the schemes mandatory, once they have made the new rules they will have to make them totally voluntary or face this happening again.

      Obi Wan Kenobi

      February 12, 2013 at 2:00 pm

  5. Mandatory Work Activity continues unaffected by this judgement:

    Yes but if you are put on ‘MWA’ you can leave in the first week with NO sanction being brought against you.

    Obi Wan Kenobi

    February 12, 2013 at 1:59 pm

  6. Good and unexpected news. Unfortunately it looks like something of a technicality. No doubt IDS and Grayling will go back to the drawing board and revise the rules so that they can continue to prove to claimants that they cannot have ‘something for nothing’ by forcing them to provide their labour for free to profit making organisations.


    February 12, 2013 at 4:41 pm

  7. Brilliant news.


    It just goes to show, the court system is not independent and you have to have bucket loads of cash and time on your hands to win a victory, when top judges actually look for merit rather than open-and-close case shown at the start of the legal process.

    Its not solely welfare, Virgin Trains only got the train franchise given to First overturned due to throwing money on the case… otherwise, it would have been tough luck.

    When I was a jobseeker I actively campaigned along with IUA against the unlawful process, but in reality this is a minor delay in the process, the Government only needs to tweak the law to buy another few years for someone to take on the lengthy process again.

    There was a time I had to abandon the advice as there is a distinct difference between something being unlawful in reality, in law and on paper… and how DWP acts with the absence of your own defence lacking resources (i.e. money and time for a top lawyer).

    I won a tribunal a few years ago in regards to New Deal… I have the tribunal decision, no appeal by DWP (therefore not won), they haven’t yet made payment of the overdue sums. (This is New Deal not Flexible New Deal to gauge the timescales here) I had to give up as paper, ink and postage would outweigh the cost of the benefit overdue. Those fighting unfair benefit sanctions (and I should say unlawful sanctions) will find it tricky to get a “refund” even with this court judgement.

    The DWP will drag their feet… we are talking potentially £50m+ of sanctions to be paid… and the cost of processing could be as much as the amounts itself – doubling the burden.

    I am very interested in knowing how much each party’s legal costs were.

    I am confident anyone refusing the Work Programme etc. will still get sanctioned. They will probably highlight the process a bit more… and too late before the adverse decision.

    Universal Jobmatch

    February 12, 2013 at 5:14 pm

    • This the latest, “But it is unclear what the ruling will actually mean.

      Reilly’s lawyer is certain that many thousands of people who had their benefits docked if they refused to take part in a Welfare to Work scheme, will be able to claim the cash back.

      But government ministers are also adamant that this will not happen. It is likely to take another court case to decide who is right on this.

      For their part, the judges who made the ruling were clear that in their view, there is nothing wrong with the principle of asking benefit claimants to undertake some kind of work in return for money from the taxpayer.

      They also rejected the idea that government schemes are a infringement of individuals’ human rights. But they did find that the regulations that were written to determine how some of the schemes work in 2011 were not up to scratch and therefore the schemes were unlawful.

      Government lawyers are now working furiously to rewrite those rules and will appeal the judgement.

      But it will be some time before it’s possible to say categorically if their efforts are enough to stop an embarrassing and expensive trail of benefits claimants trying to get cash back. “

      Andrew Coates

      February 12, 2013 at 5:23 pm

  8. There will be a lot of clucking in the DWP tonight – headless chicken time!

    Obi Wan Kenobi

    February 12, 2013 at 5:45 pm

  9. I note Channel 4 News have the story – should be worth a watch if Krishnan Guru Murthy has a go at IDS.

    Obi Wan Kenobi

    February 12, 2013 at 5:47 pm

    • We live in hope – I’m already sick of stuff about the Pope, though the Father Ted, Father Jack and Dougal for Pope campaigns on Facebook are still funny.

      Andrew Coates

      February 12, 2013 at 6:00 pm

      • I saw it on the ITV News… any excuse to get out of the office right?

        (along the lines of…)

        ” And now to … for the latest on the Pope’s resignation … ”

        No real news (read: no news) or updates to what’s already known, and more to the point the news which is known could easily be said inside a TV studio – “the pope has resigned”.

        I wonder whether his resignation is due to frail old age or the child sex abuse scandals and corruption documents…

        Universal Jobmatch

        February 12, 2013 at 7:22 pm

      • Father Jack would make a brilliant pope. He could drink paint and yell ‘FECK!’ all the time.

        Thinking outside the box how about Rev. Geraldine Granger? She is Anglican, extra-large and female. She could put chocolate shops in the Vatican and boost their tourism.

        something survived...

        February 13, 2013 at 7:39 am

  10. One of the problems is the “dark-age technicalities” of the UK legal system.

    Its “unlawful” to withheld benefits for people having dignity, but “lawful” to require people on to these schemes. if sanctions is a fundamental element of such scheme, how can the schemes be “lawful” if the punishments are “unlawful”?

    That is like saying XYZ is a “lawful” crime (worse ever placement of words), despite the penalty for the crime being “unlawful”. In criminal law, the only proper defence of such scenario in the 21st century would be death penalty being unlawful (say for murder), i.e. as a conflict in law, but the crime itself being unlawful – which would be substituted by life imprisonment (currently around 5-7 years).

    In “administrative law”, it seems they make up the technicality bullshit because its not really enforced/protected in international or EU law. (Benefit) Sanctions are a consequence of an omission or act, as a conditional rule, that is not a criminal offence, in return for (financial) state support. Its quite cleverly not an ban, fine or prohibition per se, to the support the state is somewhat obligated to provide for its citizens. Its also not a denial of entitlement, merely a prevention of payment, or nil payments. What it most certainly is is an attack on the working-age poor.

    For me, if the sole reason people claim is for the finance, removing the finance away because they didn’t do something they are not lawfully obligated to do, because the request was lawful, doesn’t make any justifiable real-world sense. Where do you draw the line between duress, (“gun to your head”) and request (“loaded gun on table and previous history of the person using it”). Is there a difference? Would it not be an armed robbery if someone walked in to a post office or bank, cocked a gun, put it on the floor and asked to make a withdrawal of all the money… ??

    Universal Jobmatch

    February 12, 2013 at 5:50 pm

    • “Life Imprisonment” is not 5-7 years lol the minimum life “tariff” is around 12 years but usually a lot higher; this is the MINIMUM that must be served before a prisoner can apply for parole. Also life means for life, convicted lifers are released on “licence” and can have their licence revoked at any time.


      February 12, 2013 at 9:52 pm

  11. Remember this:

    And they call us LTB’s

    Obi Wan Kenobi

    February 12, 2013 at 5:52 pm

  12. Even the comments in the FT – not exactly a left wing paper are condemnatory of the Work Programme.


    February 12, 2013 at 6:03 pm

  13. Channel 4 News update:

    The DWP have already re-written the rules and regs – will try to find more info.

    Obi Wan Kenobi

    February 12, 2013 at 8:43 pm

    • I’ve contacted my MP for further clarification. I want to know if the new Regulations are in place with immediate effect, or do they have to go through a Parliamentary process? In the meantime can I stop attending the Work Programme without my JSA being sanctioned?

      Landless Peasant

      February 12, 2013 at 11:28 pm

      • Wanctioned sounds a better term.

        Shappi Khorsandi for Pope!

        something survived...

        February 13, 2013 at 7:41 am



    February 13, 2013 at 9:52 am

  15. duncan smith has exceeded his powers’,he clearly thinks he can do what he wants when he wants.the arrogance and contempt he has shown throughout his time is beyond belief,calling cait reilly a snooty so and so and that she would fail.his contempt has not stopped there,the infamous attack on the the remploy workers in that he created a hostile degrading and intimidating atmosphere again unlawful shows this individual thinks he can do what he wants and get away with it just quoting his thinking.it cannot come as a surprise if the last of this has not been heard regarding the disabled.

    it would be unsurprising if companies’ pulled out of this on advice of thir legal departments’,no company wants or needs this publicitity in these times’,the plus side is that his behaviour and stupidity continue to attract headlines and the culture of the lier,bounder,cheat,deceiver and a crook continues alive in the tory party.


    February 13, 2013 at 1:01 pm

    • Heard late last night on the news that Govt pushed through new rules for JSA. Was this done on the floor of the house or was it in backroom by lawyers etc. Where do JSA claimants now stand as regards MWA or CAP.
      Are there any employment lawyers out there that can advise. We could be turkeys and it a’int even christmas.


      February 13, 2013 at 1:17 pm

  16. New workfare regulations:

    The Jobseekers Allowance (Schemes for Assisting Persons to Obtain Employment) Regulations 2013 (SI 2013/276)

    Posted on February 13, 2013 by http://www.consent.me.uk

    “The Jobseekers Allowance (Schemes for Assisting Persons to Obtain Employment) Regulations 2013 (SI 2013/276) are due to be published 14 February 2013 and will be available for download from legislation.gov.uk after 2:30 pm.”

    Kind regards, Dawn Dean Service and Performance Manager Legislation Services Team legislation@nationalarchives.gsi.gov.uk +44 (0)20 8392 5215 The National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 4DU

    Background: Landmark workfare ruling, “govt acted unlawfully #workfare is quashed” (12/2/13)


    Obi Wan Kenobi

    February 13, 2013 at 1:17 pm

    • Thanks ‘Obi’
      I’ll Have A Look Later


      February 13, 2013 at 1:23 pm

    • Lets all becareful here now. We don’t know who may be {not] who they say they are

      James Middlesex

      February 13, 2013 at 3:05 pm

      • The DWP monitor this site and other similar ones – it’s nothing new to us – were used to it.

        Obi Wan Kenobi

        February 13, 2013 at 3:11 pm

  17. Mark Hoban being interviewed on BBC Newsnight 12.02.13. regarding the court ruling that workfare schemes are unlawful.


    Obi Wan Kenobi

    February 13, 2013 at 2:03 pm

  18. Good 4 her.Love Mandy


    February 13, 2013 at 2:11 pm

  19. The Government will simply move the goalposts by rewriting the rules – as they always do when they lose cases.

    It is already being done with ESA appeals, as the following poster will show:


    Now it’s Clause 99 – the new Catch 22 for ATOS victims. Google the words “Clause 99 ESA Catch 22”, for an eye-opening report!


    February 13, 2013 at 2:16 pm

    • The difference this time is that the new regulations must be approved by parliament first and must not be in contempt of the High Court ruling made yesterday.

      The Public Interest Lawyers that won the case for Miss Reilly and Mr Wilson will be scutinising the new regulations very closely – god help IDS and Hoban if they get it wrong.

      Obi Wan Kenobi

      February 13, 2013 at 2:26 pm

      • Yes, but it will soon be business as usual, because the principle behind these welfare-to-work schemes which purport to successfully get people back to work, has not been deemed unlawful itself.

        Also remember, the already discredited Mandatory Work Activity Scheme is not affected by yesterday’s Appeal Court ruling, even although the DWPs own research found the MWA scheme had failed in its purpose. See this report:



        February 13, 2013 at 2:48 pm

      • I also think the message that people should not have to work for nothing is getting through.

        I wish that the news reports had concentrated on Mr Wilson’s case rather than Ms Reilly’s, because that aspect was made clearer in it than in hers.

        Channel Four in any case led with some stuff about Chicago, which does not really interest me.

        If I want real international news, which I do, I watch Al Jazeera or listen to the World Service, not look at some Channel Four reporter getting a nice trip around the US.

        Andrew Coates

        February 13, 2013 at 4:31 pm

      • Mr Wilson doesn’t appear on camera though, it is only Ms Reilly we ever see, so by dint of this the aspects of this workfarce shambles particular to Cait’s case tend to be pushed more to the fore. And we have to respect someone’s right to privacy.


        February 13, 2013 at 4:48 pm

  20. Look at this Early Day Motion 1072 presented by John McDonnell MP (Labour Party)

    Early day motion 1072

    SOCIAL SECURITY (S.I., 2013, NO. 276)
    Session: 2012-13
    Date tabled: 12.02.2013
    Primary sponsor: McDonnell, John

    That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the Jobseeker’s Allowance (Schemes for Assisting Persons to Obtain Employment) Regulations 2013 (S.I., 2013, No. 276), dated 12 February 2013, a copy of which was laid before this House on 12 February, be annulled.

    Total number of signatures: 1

    Name McDonnell, John

    Party Labour Party

    Constituency Hayes and Harlington

    Date Signed 12.02.2013

    Obi Wan Kenobi

    February 13, 2013 at 3:24 pm

  21. Obi Wan Kenobi

    February 13, 2013 at 3:25 pm

    • Whatever schemes and regulations are annulled, the unemployed are likely to get the same old smoke and mirrors routine at the end of the day.

      Where are all the proper paid jobs for all of the unemployed to get back to when they are finish these mandatory scheme – most of which have now been shown to be ineffective?

      Not surprisingly, because sufficient real jobs don’t exist. You can’t get a quart out of a pint pot.


      February 13, 2013 at 3:54 pm

  22. The only solution to this is action on the streets. Let’s face it, reasoned argument simply doesn’t work with the unelected morons we have in government.


    February 13, 2013 at 4:56 pm

  23. Sorry to be a thorn but this not strict straight approach by DWP is a long known fact, the problem has always been getting a judge to rule against it.

    The system has many a hole, especially where contractors/third parties are involved, take social security act used to justify exemption from DPA. JCP as lets face it that the DWP always stands at a legal distance to its shadow company might claim under the act they can contact any of the employers who you have applied to which they cant by the way although this argument is still going. Now slap DPA on your emails and CV and DWP/JCP can claim what they want, inorder to get this data the potential employer who cant claim exemption has to breach. Either way someones getting burnt and providing you did apply it wont be you.

    Ive tryed to converse with caxton hse for a better system but their to full of themselves to listen so what choice do we have but to take matters into our own hands and threaten or actually take them to court over one abuse after another.

    Oh for the record and no i wont expand but the government get hacked constantly, infact i can say the hacker /s never actually left, im not talking about their stupid .gov site, im talking about the ones they dont thing we know exists,the ones right below your feet and all around you persay.


    February 13, 2013 at 7:05 pm

  24. Please contact your MP (assuming they’re not Tories) asap and ask him/her to support Early Day Motion 1072 tabled by John McDonnell, to nullify the Government’s Workfare plans.


    Landless Peasant

    February 13, 2013 at 9:58 pm

    • 16 MP’s have signed up to this so far.

      Obi Wan Kenobi

      February 14, 2013 at 8:11 pm

  25. Dictatorship is government unconstrained by law.


    February 14, 2013 at 12:46 am

  26. Requirement to participate and notification5.—(1) Subject to regulation 6, a claimant selected under regulation 4 is required to participate in the Scheme where the Secretary of State gives the claimant a notice in writing complying with paragraph (2).

    (2) The notice must specify—
    (a)that the claimant is required to participate in the Scheme;
    (b)the day on which the claimant’s participation will start;
    (c)details of what the claimant is required to do by way of participation in the Scheme;
    (d)that the requirement to participate in the Scheme will continue until the claimant is given notice by the Secretary of State that the claimant’s participation is no longer required, or the claimant’s award of jobseeker’s allowance terminates, whichever is earlier; and
    (e)information about the consequences of failing to participate in the Scheme.

    why dosnt 2c mean Ian ‘meanie’ smith has to tell me what Im supposed to be doing in the scheme before I start as part of my notification. DWP seem to think merely telling me to attend is enough notification


    February 14, 2013 at 5:29 pm

    • You should really be given some sort of “job description” like any other employee, without an “any other duties as required” clause

      HR Recruit

      February 14, 2013 at 6:41 pm

  27. Realeased 14.02.13

    The Jobseeker’s Allowance (Schemes for Assisting Persons to Obtain Employment) Regulations 2013


    Obi Wan Kenobi

    February 14, 2013 at 6:38 pm

  28. This original version may be easier to read:

    The Jobseeker’s Allowance (Schemes for Assisting Persons to Obtain Employment) Regulations 2013


    Obi Wan Kenobi

    February 14, 2013 at 7:05 pm

  29. May I point out that the Jobcentres now have to issue new offical referral letter’s to everyone who has been referred to the Work Programme with these new regulations on it to make attending lawful – The Jobseeker’s Allowance (Schemes for Assisting Persons to Obtain Employment) Regulations 2013.

    Because at the moment we are attending the Work Programme under the old regulations – Jobseekers Allowance (Employment Skills and Enterprise Scheme) Regulations 2011 – which has now been ruled unlawful by the High Courts of Justice.

    Obi Wan Kenobi

    February 14, 2013 at 7:45 pm

  30. Anyone sanctioned for a WP “offence” should read this to find out how to get their money back


    February 14, 2013 at 9:39 pm

  31. PCS Union:

    Cait Reilly ruling should mean end of workfare
    12 February 2013

    We believe a ruling by appeal court judges should mean the end of the government’s workfare schemes.

    The details of today’s (Tuesday 12) judgement in the Cait Reilly and Jamie Wilson cases are still being studied.

    But we welcome the fact the judges overturned the original verdict and agreed the pair were unlawfully forced to work for no wages.

    We represent almost 80,000 of the Department for Work and Pensions’ 100,000 staff.

    We successfully steered a motion through last year’s TUC congress calling for all work to be optional and paid and for back-to-work schemes to be brought back in-house.

    Our members in jobcentres and advice centres will offer guidance and support to all those affected by the ruling, including those who have been unjustly sanctioned.

    We also reaffirm our support for campaign groups, including Boycott Workfare, opposed to schemes, some of which now appear to be unlawful.

    The judgement comes on the day we publish our ‘Britain needs a pay rise’ report, highlighting the effect of low wages on our economy.

    Far from offering sustainable employment, workfare schemes are ineffective and exacerbate a low-wage economy.

    Responding to the judgement PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “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.”


    Obi Wan Kenobi

    February 16, 2013 at 11:46 am

    • Thanks Obi.

      Of course not all DWP staff are union members.

      Andrew Coates

      February 16, 2013 at 12:32 pm

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