Labour MPs helped get the coalition off the hook over the “workfare” scandal that saw three appeal court judges rule that the work-for-free-or-lose-your-benefits schemes to which over 200,000 unemployed workers have been subjected are unlawful.
The February ruling meant that the government could have had to pay £130 million in benefits rebates to up to 231,000 people, but a new law, rushed through Parliament on Tuesday 19 March, overturns the appeal court’s decision and prevents similar appeals being made in future, in order to “protect the national economy”.
Most Labour MPs abstained in the vote on the law (57 voted against). The Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, Liam Byrne, has attacked government “incompetence” over workfare, but not opposed the schemes on principle.
Boycott Workfare, the grassroots direct action network whose regular high-street demonstrations have shamed some firms into pulling out of the schemes, called the move “unbelievably disgusting”.
• More: boycottworkfare.org.uk