06/08/2012

Human Rights Bid Fails Against Back-To-Work Schemes

A graduate has lost her attempt to challenge a government scheme which she said was similar to forced labour.

Cait Reilly, a University of Birmingham geology graduate, took a case to the High Court arguing that a government scheme under which she had to work unpaid at a Poundland store for two weeks or risk losing her benefits was a breach of human rights.

A judge rejected her assertion, saying it was "a long way from contemporary thinking" to call the scheme slavery or forced labour.

The decision means that the government is spared the prospect of having all back-to-work schemes declared invalid.

Miss Reilly, 23, and unemployed heavy goods vehicle driver Jamieson Wilson, 40, from Nottingham, were trying to get their back-to-work schemes declared unlawful under article four of the European Convention on Human Rights, which prohibits both forced labour and slavery.

The judge, Mr Justice Foskett, sitting at the High Court in London, said mistakes had been made in both their cases.

Miss Reilly had been misinformed about the Work Academy Scheme, so she did not realise that it was not mandatory.

For his part, Mr Wilson, who was on the Community Action Programme, had not been given proper notice of the scheme.

However, neither scheme breached the convention and the errors did not invalidate the Jobseeker's Allowance regulations.

(NE)

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