‘Workfare’ Scheme Ruled to be Lawful but DWP Warned to Improve Clarity of Communication with Unemployed
August 7, 2012
The Fresh Outlook
Government’s unpaid work scheme for long-term unemployed held to be lawful by the High Court, after limited success for claimants.
The coalition government’s ‘work programme’, which assigns those who have been unemployed for three years or over an unpaid work placement, has been deemed lawful by the High Court.
On Monday it was decided that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) scheme was legitimate; although the DWP were warned to improve the clarity of their letters which detail the terms of the placement with the individual.
This verdict came after a joint claim from Cait Reilly, a Geology graduate who was allocated a placement at Poundland; and Jamieson Wilson, a HGV driver who had claimed he was made to work for 30 hours a week unpaid for six months.
It was held that, in the specific cases of Mr Wilson and Ms Reilly, the individuals were entitled to a rebate of their benefits, which had been stripped by the DWP. It was seen that the individuals were not given explicit notice that the schemes would be unpaid at the job centres, or about their general requirements.
The judge, Mr Justice Foskett, ruled that the DWP ought to “improve the clarity of their letters that warn jobseekers of a sanction if they fail to take part in the schemes without good reason”.
However, the work programme itself was not deemed to be in breach of individual’s rights.
Boycott Workfare, a group campaigning against the use of unpaid work schemes, stated: “While the ruling is positive for tens of thousands of people whose sanctions were unlawful, [we are] disappointed that the schemes will be allowed to continue.”
By Stephen Jennings
[Image courtesy of GeoBlogs]