Government loses back-to-work schemes appeal in Supreme Court

The original case was brought by museum volunteer Cait Reilly, who was told she had to work at Poundland for free or lose her Jobseeker's Allowance

Cait Reilly
Cait Reilly

The government has lost an appeal in the Supreme Court over a ruling that its back-to-work schemes were legally flawed.

The original case was brought by museum volunteer and Birmingham University graduate Cait Reilly, who claimed that requiring her to work for Poundland without pay breached laws on forced labour, and unemployed HGV driver Jamieson Wilson.

Reilly, a volunteer at the Pen Museum in Birmingham, was told in autumn 2011 that she had to stop volunteering and complete unpaid work experienced at Poundland as part of back-to-work training or she would lose her Jobseeker’s Allowance.

Iain Duncan Smith, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, failed in a bid to reverse an earlier ruling that regulations from 2011 underpinning the schemes were invalid. Five Supreme Court justices upheld a court of appeal judgment made in February.

A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said in statement: "The judgment changes nothing in DWP today. Claimants will continue to be mandated onto our back-to-work schemes under the new regulations we laid in March."

Tessa Gregory, the solicitor acting on behalf of Reilly, said in a statement that she was "delighted" by the decision, adding that she had issued judicial review proceedings challenging the validity of the retrospective legislation introduced by Duncan Smith.

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