IN A LANDMARK decision yesterday, the Supreme Court upheld the Court of Appeal ruling of last February that the Regulations governing the government’s ‘Back to Work’ schemes were unlawful and should be quashed.
The court dismissed the government’s appeal against that February ruling.
The original case was brought by Cait Reilly, who was made to stack shelves in Poundland for two weeks, and Jamie Wilson, who was stripped of his Jobseeker’s allowance for six months after refusing to participate in a scheme which required him to work 30 hours a week for six months for free.
In its judgment the Supreme Court held that the Court of Appeal had been right to quash the Regulations on the basis that the Secretary of State, Iain Duncan Smith, had acted beyond the powers given to him by Parliament by failing to provide any detail about the various ‘Back to Work’ schemes in the Regulations.
Following the ruling, Cait Reilly stated: ‘I am really pleased with today’s judgment which I hope will serve to improve the current system and assist jobseekers who have been unfairly stripped of their benefits.
‘I brought these proceedings because I knew that there was something wrong when I was stopped from doing voluntary work in a local museum and instead forced to work for Poundland for free.
‘I have been fortunate enough to find work in a Supermarket but I know how difficult it can be.
‘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.’
Jamie Wilson had been provided with invalid notice under the Regulations, as the DWP failed to specify the details of what he was required to do by way of participation in the Back to Work Scheme.
In line with standard notices issued at that time he was merely informed that he had to perform ‘any activities’ requested of him by the private provider, Ingeus.
Phil Shiner, head of Public Interest Lawyers said: ‘Once again the Department for Work and Pensions flagship Back to Work schemes have been found wanting.
‘Today’s ruling from the Supreme Court is of huge constitutional and practical significance.
‘My firm will now get on with challenging, by judicial review, the retrospective legislation which was shamefully rushed through Parliament by Iain Duncan Smith in March of this year.’