The DWP have suffered a crushing defeat after a university graduate and a mechanic took them to courT over being forced to do unpaid labour in return for their benefits.  Having lost in the High Court, the duo, supported by the public law project, have now won their case at the Court of Appeal. {jcomments on}

Most of the government's back to work schemes have been declared illegal by the court and no-one can now be forced to do unpaid work until new regulations have been enacted.  In addition, any sanctions against claimants who failed to participate in forced labour will now have to be repaid by the DWP.

The DWP has, however, already indicated that it will appeal the decision to the Supreme Court and that it will refuse to repay any benefits until all legal avenues have been exhausted.

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”

Read more on the Public Interest Lawyers website and on the BBC website

You can download a copy of the ruling from this link.


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