He vows not to back down after court rules against flagship work scheme
Iain Duncan Smith has criticised unemployed graduates who consider themselves ‘too good’ for menial jobs.
Geology graduate Cait Reilly won a landmark court case last week after complaining she had been subjected to ‘forced labour’ because she risked losing her benefits if she refused to do work experience at discount store Poundland.
The Work and Pensions Secretary pointed out that former Tesco boss Sir Terry Leahy started his career at the retailer stacking shelves.
Lashed out: Iain Dunan Smith has attacked graduates who think they are ‘too good’ to stack shelves
Tough talk: The Work and Pensions Secretary was speaking to Eddie Mair on the Andrew Marr Show today
In a direct rebuke to Miss Reilly, he added: ‘The next time one of these smart people that say there’s something wrong with this goes into their supermarket, ask themselves this simple question.
‘When they can’t find the food on the shelves, who is more important: Them, the geologist, or the person that stacked the shelf?’
Example: Former Tesco CEO, Sir Terry Leahy, started his career at the retailer stacking shelves
Miss Reilly, 24, is now working part-time in a supermarket. She said she did not object to menial work – simply the fact that she was not being paid.
Last week’s Appeal Court ruling forced ministers to hurriedly re-write the rules surrounding a string of back-to-work schemes, and could result in compensation of more than £40million being paid to jobless claimants who had their benefits stopped for refusing to do work experience.
In a defiant intervention on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show yesterday, Mr Duncan Smith made it clear he would not back down.
Denying claims of ‘slave labour’, he said: ‘She was paid jobseeker’s allowance by the taxpayer to do this.
‘Most young people love this programme and I am sorry but there are a group of people out there who think they are too good for this kind of stuff.’
He added: ‘I am not going to give way on this. I absolutely clearly tell you this: People who think it is their right to take benefit and do nothing for it – those days are over.’
Last week’s ruling found that the Government’s regulations failed to give the unemployed enough information, especially about the sanctions for refusing jobs under the schemes.
But it rejected Miss Reilly’s claim that being forced to do unpaid work experience breached her human rights.
Miss Reilly said last week: ‘I don’t think I am above working in Poundland.’
Rebuke: Mr Duncan Smith dismissed suggestions the flagship back-to-work scheme is ‘slave labour’