Jobless Nottinghamshire lorry driver wins landmark case after benefits axe
AN unemployed lorry driver who was told by the Government to work for free or lose his benefit has spoken of his relief after winning a landmark case at the Court of Appeal.
Jamieson Wilson took the Department for Work and Pensions to court over the Community Action Programme, which he said lacked "concrete benefit" and was unfair.
The 41-year-old was forced to work for 30 hours a week at an organisation that collected disused furniture, renovated it and distributed it to needy people.
He was enrolled on the programme in November 2011, but objected at the time to doing unpaid work that was unrelated to his qualifications and would not help him re-enter the job market.
Landlords let us advertise your property and find you vetted tenants quickly. Our let only service is £195.
We offer full management services as well as rent guarantee and rent advance. Call us
Terms: No hidden charges, you will be informed of all costs in advance. The letting agency you can trust.
Contact: 0115 8969582
Valid until: Sunday, June 30 2013
He refused to participate and as a result was stripped of his jobseeker's allowance for six months.
After a lengthy legal battle, the scheme was declared legally flawed on Tuesday.
In a statement issued by his lawyers, Mr Wilson said: "I am really pleased that the court has found in our favour.
"I refused to participate in the Community Action Programme because I objected to being made to clean furniture for 30 hours a week for six months when I knew it wouldn't help me find employment.
"I was given next to no information about the programme; I was told simply that I had to do whatever the Department for Work and Pensions' private contractor instructed me to do and that if I didn't I may lose my benefits.
"Being without jobseeker's allowance was very difficult for me but I don't regret taking a stand."
A spokesman for Public Interest Lawyers, who represented him, said: "Over the past two years the Government has unlawfully required tens of thousands of unemployed people to work without pay and unlawfully stripped thousands more of their subsistence benefits."
Mr Wilson worked as a lorry driver from 1994 until 2008, holding various jobs with different companies, and was also an agency worker.
Towards the end of 2008, he was laid off after working as a driver for British Gypsum through an employment agency.
He was worried about being able to support his daughter and signed on to receive income support and child benefit.
The Government expressed "disappointment and surprise" at the decision, and said it now intended to introduce new regulations to ensure future schemes were lawfully based.