In responding to the High Court judgment on Hewstone today (4 July 2014) a DWP spokesman said:
We’re pleased the Court recognised that if claimants do not play by the rules and meet their conditions to do all they can to look for work and get a job, we can stop their benefits. That is only right.
However, we disagree with the judgment on the legislation and are disappointed. It was discussed, voted on and passed by Parliament.
While this applies to only a minority of past cases and does not affect the day to day business of our Jobcentres, we think this is an important point and will appeal.
In passing the Jobseekers (Back to Work Schemes) Act 2013, Parliament reaffirmed that claimants need to do all they can to find work in order to claim benefits and introduced legislation which ensured that the government did not have to repay money to claimants who had not complied with the conditions of their benefit claim.
The court, in passing this judgment, ruled that the Act amounted to an interference with the rights of a minority of claimants. We disagree and we are appealing.
The Court agreed that claimants must continue to meet the conditions of their claim to be entitled to benefits – they are not entitled to benefits on the basis they have been paid them in the past.
Nothing changes in Jobcentre Plus today. We will continue to help people back into work so they can look after themselves and their families. We don’t intend to pay back benefits to claimants that failed to meet the conditions of their benefit.
We have been granted permission to appeal. We will robustly defend the right of the government to have rules around what claimants need to do in return for support to get into work and any benefits.
The 2013 Act remains in force. There is no change to the operation of our schemes from the outcome of the High Court today. We will continue to help people back in to work and we will not be repaying any sanctions pending our appeal.
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