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Supreme Court to hear government’s appeal on the workfare regulations

From Public Interest Lawyers:

On Monday 29 July 2013, the Supreme Court of England and Wales, will consider the Department for Work and Pension’s (DWP) appeal against the judgment of the Court of Appeal which unanimously held that the Regulations under which most of the Government’s "Back to Work" schemes were created were unlawful and had to be quashed. You can watch the case here tomorrow.

The ruling which was handed down on 12 February 2013 was a huge setback for the DWP whose flagship reforms have been beset with problems since their inception.

The case was brought by our clients 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.

The Court of Appeal in its ruling held that over a two year period the Government unlawfully required hundreds of thousands of unemployed people to work without pay and unlawfully stripped tens of thousands more of their subsistence level benefits.

In March 2013, following the judgment, Iain Duncan Smith not only applied for permission to appeal but also took the wholly extraordinary step of rushing through parliament - The Jobseekers (Back to Work Act) 2013 - emergency legislation which overturned the Court of Appeal’s judgment and retrospectively declared lawful what the Court of Appeal had declared unlawful.

That legislation is the subject of a fresh judicial review challenge, but it makes the Government’s appeal to the Supreme Court academic because the law has now retrospectively changed since the Court of Appeal judgment.

"The decision of the Supreme Court on the DWP’s appeal will in the main be academic because the Government has already retrospectively changed the law to overturn the Court of Appeal’s judgment. However, the Supreme Court will also be considering our clients’ cross appeal in which we argue that the DWP is under an obligation to publish clear and accessible information about these schemes for jobseekers so that those like our clients understand what the schemes are and what can be lawfully required from them"

Tessa Gregory, solicitor, Public Interest Lawyers

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