#Workfare: illegal benefit sanctions a breach of human rights, a “terrifying threat to civil liberty” and @UKLabour’s support for this “brutal, unforgivable attack on vulnerable people”

Update: 1/8/18 DWP confirms it will be refunding Workfare conscripts £2 million pounds* of illegal benefit sanctions to “3789-4305 individuals“.

DWP minister Alok Sharma announces a Remedial Order[1] to amend the Jobseekers (Back to Work Schemes) Act 2013, which the Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) will scrutinise. This concerns 231,000 claimants and the Cait Reilly and Jamie Wilson Poundland workfare litigation and forced-labour conscripts being illegally punished with an average of £550 of benefit sanctions. The Supreme Court found sanctioned benefit claimants did not get the right to a fair hearing to challenge sanctions and therefore the DWP breached of Article 6 (Fair Trial) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

This highlights a dark day in Labour Party history when it had supported Tory and Libdem retrospective legislation to deny claimants the right to be repaid illegally sanctioned benefits.

“The Government has effectively declared that it is above the law. “The precedent is a terrifying threat to civil liberty,” says classical liberal think-tank Civitas. “The entire concept of ‘Rule of Law’ is undermined as soon as the government starts to cover its back like this.”
Owen Jones: ‘Workfare: Why did so many Labour MPs accept this brutal, unforgivable attack on vulnerable people?’Independent – Wednesday 20 March 2013

The JCHR scrutiny and a Remedial Order  will probably only mean a “small”  number of claimants that “had” lodged a “live appeal” against workfare sanctions should get a refund, despite the retrospective law seeking to deny such. Rather than the 231,000 affected by the illegal sanctions.

“The proposed draft Remedial Order ensures the right to a fair hearing for a small group of job seekers who had a live appeal against a sanction decision made under the Jobseeker’s Allowance (Employment, Skills and Enterprise Schemes) Regulations 2011 (“the ESE Regulations”) when the 2013 Act came into force. It enables the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to change this sanction decision and refund the amount withheld, without those affected individuals having to continue with their appeal.”
Jobseeker’s (Back to Work Schemes) Act 2013: Written statement – HCWS807 – 28 June 2018

Join Boycott Workfare‘s campaign against forced-unpaid-labour and sign up to Keep Volunteering Voluntary.


[1] “A remedial order is a form of delegated legislation which seeks to correct a miscalculation or imbalance between UK law and the European Convention on Human Rights.” https://www.parliament.uk/site-information/glossary/remedial-orders/