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UK Politics

Judge: Government broke benefits law

The Government broke the law when it stripped an unemployed man of his benefits for six months after he refused to participate in an unpaid back-to-work scheme, the High Court has ruled.

But Mr Justice Foskett did not agree with two people who claimed that the workfare programme had breached their human rights by forcing them to do menial work for no pay. He said the scheme did not constitute slavery.

The judicial review was brought by Cait Reilly, who was sent to work in a Poundland store, and Jamie Wilson, an unemployed heavy goods vehicle driver. Lawyers for the pair said they will seek leave to appeal.

The judge ruled that the Department for Work and Pensions broke regulations because it did not give Mr Wilson sufficient notice when cutting off his benefits.

Tessa Gregory, of Public Interest Lawyers, said: "As of January 2012, over 22,000 people had been stripped of their benefits for failing to participate in the Work Programme alone. That figure must now have doubled. Today's decision should mean that many of those subjected to benefit sanctions will be entitled to reimbursement by the Department for Work and Pensions."