Is govt's work-for-your-dole programme in crisis or not?
Anti-workfare campaigners claim victory but Iain Duncan Smith is as bullish as ever
WHEN three Appeal Court judges ruled yesterday that almost all of the coalition's workfare schemes were currently unlawful, the government had a unique response - it vowed to extend the programme.
The judges agreed that both Cait Reilly, 24, who was asked to stack shelves at Poundland for free if she wanted her dole to be paid, and Jamieson Wilson, 40, an unemployed lorry driver also told to work for his benefits, were the victims of schemes that were legally flawed because of the lack of basic information offered to claimants by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
Following the landmark judgment, the back-to-work schemes are either "heading for the plug-hole or going from strength to strength" depending on which paper you read, The Spectator's Isabel Hardman notes.
As The Guardian's Zoe Williams writes, the ruling surely means that those who have had their Jobseeker's Allowance stopped for refusing to take part in similar programmes to Reilly and Wilson can claim it back.
Not so fast, DWP sources tell The Sun - benefits cash will be returned "over ministers' dead bodies".
Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, writing in the paper, says his department – which plans to appeal yesterday’s ruling at the Supreme Court - has already fixed the technicality which led judges to rule against the schemes.
"Nobody works for free on these placements because the government continues to pay their benefits. So nobody is working for nothing, are they?", he writes. “Crucially the court did not find that anyone’s human rights have been breached because we asked them to do a work placement in return for Jobseeker's Allowance.”
For the Daily Telegraph, although the judgment was a "severe blow", the DWP has good reason to appear unperturbed. "The problem here was with the fine details of the implementation, not the broader idea, which ministers rightly insist will be pursued with even more vigour than before," the paper says in an editorial.
As for Cait Reilly, in an interview with The Guardian she denies being a "job snob". She reveals she is currently enjoying paid work on the checkout at Morrisons. ·