The UK government has announced a £5m expansion of its Mandatory Work Activity Scheme – the same controversial scheme
that has seen court proceedings initiated against it by a participant alleging it amounted to forced labour.
Unemployed graduate Cait Reilly says she was forced to give up a voluntary placement at a museum to take part in the scheme or risk losing her benefits. Public Interest Lawyers, representing her, confirmed to Recruiter
today that judicial review proceedings against the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) are yet to come to court.
The £5m expansion to the scheme will allow for up to 70,000 further referrals every year – and employment minister Chris Grayling has warned jobseekers that the system of sanctions against those who try to avoid taking part in the scheme have been tightened.
The DWP also says that it would expect placements to include those of benefit to the community. As reported by recruiter.co.uk
last month, Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust are among employers signing up to the scheme, giving jobseekers experience in a working hospital
Grayling says: “People need to be aware that for those who are fit enough to work it is simply not an option to sit on benefits and do nothing.
“We’ve found that a month’s full-time activity can be a real deterrent for some people who are either not trying or who are gaming the system. But we’re also fighting a battle to stop claimants slipping back into the benefits system by the back door.”