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Appeal judges quash back-to-work regulations

Government to appeal to Supreme Court

13 February 2013

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The Court of Appeal has quashed the Jobseekers Regulations 2011, after a judicial review brought by a geology graduate who complained that if she had been correctly informed that she would be working at Poundland for five days a week for no pay, she would not have participated.

Caitlin Reilly challenged the ‘sector-based work academy scheme’, after her Jobcentre adviser told her that attendance was mandatory, and she had to do it to retain her jobseeker’s allowance.

The court heard that the other claimant, Jamieson Wilson, aged 40, was a former lorry driver. After losing his job, he said the Jobcentre told him that to keep his jobseeker’s allowance he would have to take part in the ‘community action programme’.

Wilson claimed he was told he would have to work unpaid for six months collecting old furniture, repairing it and distributing it to the needy.

Delivering the leading judgment in R(on the application of Reilly and Wilson) v the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2013] EWCA Civ 66, Lord Justice Pill said the 2011 regulations were made under section 17A of the Jobseekers Act 1995.

He said counsel for the claimants argued that parliament “intended to retain oversight of arrangements made under the 1995 Act by requiring, in section 37, draft regulations made under, or by virtue of, any provision of the Act (subject to exceptions) to be laid before parliament”.

Pill LJ concluded: “I do not consider that a formal policy statement was required of the secretary of state. The policy is stated in the statute.

“What is required is, first, that appropriate statements of the types of arrangement to be made and on offer are made publicly available, as the secretary of state accepts. I accept the need for flexibility in dealing with particular claimants and providers.

“Secondly, it is then necessary to ensure that an individual claimant, before he embarks on an arrangement made following his jobseeker’s agreement, is aware of his obligations.”

Lord Justice Pill allowed the appeal. Sir Stanley Burnton, for his own reasons, agreed, as did Lady Justice Black.

Employment minister Mark Hoban said the government did not agree with the court’s decision and would seek permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.

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