The Death Of The Back To Work Scheme: The Coalition Fails Again

With the courts now criticising the Coalition's forced labour scheme, how much longer can Ministers continue patronising Britain's youth?
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With the courts now criticising the Coalition's forced labour scheme, how much longer can Ministers continue patronising Britain's youth?


The UK coalition Government has now proven that not only is it completely out of touch with the peasantry in the country but apparently also with the lawmakers. How much more can we really take?

The Government’s back to work scheme has been under extreme criticism since its inception and after an onerous debacle a graduate student from Birmingham has finally won her case against them. The government has now been told by the courts that this program must be stopped with immediate effect.

The graduate student Cait Reilly had been volunteering at a museum after she graduated from a degree in geology. She volunteered whilst she was on the dole working towards a position with the employer she had spent university training towards and with whom she wished to work. The job centre however alerted her that she would no longer receive her allowance if she did not participate in their program. The program forced her into a six week retail training program including two weeks working at Poundland. This also meant that she had to stop working at the museum and instead focus on training in retail, a career she had no desire to enter.


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My personal experience of retail began in Sainsbury’s, where I worked at the check-out and stacked shelves as a seventeen year-old. I could have done the job without training when I was eight let alone seventeen. I did it for three months and learned the valuable skill of swiping goods through a scanner, taking a payment and putting things on shelves next to where it says they should go.

Now who in any position as employer would ever consider a twenty-two year old geology graduate unable to work in retail until they had six weeks of training?

The patronising and undermining nature of this scheme is what really took the piss and we must be glad that it no longer exists. The fact remains though that it took a young woman taking the government to court to make this happen. The what she has done is to make sure that people in the UK do not have to enter into unpaid labour under order from their own government.

How any government Minister can really think that giving Poundland free labour instead of giving a twenty-two year old graduate pay is acceptable, I cannot seem to comprehend. If it is the idea that this type of work gives people experience and self-esteem, anyone who has ever either worked in retail or been on the dole knows how ridiculous that is. As Kevin Bridges put it; “Imagine working in Poundstretcher and knowing that everything in the shop is worth a pound except you!”

It has been said before that most of the Ministry would literally not know the price of milk, but this piece of legislation takes the biscuit. I am sure almost none of these men and women have ever worked a menial job such as in retail. Their ability to understand how shitty it is, to have to continue with that type of work once you have paid for and graduated from university, must be nil. That can be the only way they would think that this would give someone self-respect and “training” to get a job normally reserved for sixteen year olds.

A Tory led government was always going to be in conflict with those in society who are most vulnerable. Their attacks on pensions and working benefit and healthcare are just a few of them; however forcing unpaid labour on to the next generation of this country is a step too far even for them. The lawmakers of the UK are clearly ready to tell them what they cannot do and more people in the UK need to be ready to do the same. It is bad enough that they treat the general population with contempt but when they start doing that to the laws that govern the people we really need to be worried.