Employment minister Mark Hoban has said the government is already exploring a number of options to avoid repaying sanctioned benefits to claimants forced to undertake unpaid labour, even if the government loses its case in the supreme court.  New regulations are also being enacted today to try to ensure that forced labour can carry on as before.{jcomments on}

The Court of Appeal ruled today that most forced labour schemes were unlawful because the government did not have the powers to introduce them in the way that they did.  However, in a clear sign that the DWP was expecting to lose the case, the government already had new regulations ready and waiting to be enacted which, they believe will remedy the problems with the oriinal ones.

In a statement today , employment minister Mark Hoban said:

"The Minister for Employment (Mark Hoban MP): The Court of Appeal has today ruled that the Government’s back-to-work schemes do not breach Article 4 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

"Whilst the judgment supports the principle and policy of our employment schemes, and acknowledges the care and resources we have dedicated to implementing them, the Court of Appeal has ruled that the Jobseeker’s Allowance (Employment, Skills and Enterprise) Regulations 2011 (“the ESE Regulations”) do not describe the employment schemes to which they apply, as is required by the primary legislation. The Court of Appeal has therefore held the ESE Regulations to be ultra vires and quashed them.

"We are seeking permission to appeal against the Court of Appeal’s judgment and, if permission is granted, we will take our case to the Supreme Court. As we are currently seeking permission to appeal, claimants who have already served a sanction will not be able to appeal on the basis of the Court’s decision until our appeal is heard. We are considering a range of options to ensure we do not have to repay these sanctions.

"Today we intend to lay new regulations which will come into force immediately and enable us to continue to refer Jobseekers Allowance claimants to our employment schemes and to provide the best chance for people to find employment."


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