The workfare scheme that forced an unpaid Birmingham woman to stock shelves at Poundland for six weeks is "blatantly unlawful," London's High Court heard today.
Jobless graduate Cait Reilly took on the government in what could be a landmark judicial review of the Con-Dems' controversial Work Programme.
Ms Reilly, who completed a BSc in Geology at Birmingam University in 2010, said her assigned jobcentre adviser invited her in August to attend a contractors' training open day - only to tell her after attending that she would now lose her jobseekers' allowance if she did not follow through with their work placement scheme.
Ms Reilly said she had to quit an unpaid volunteering role with a local museum to attend the six-week scheme - instead spending five hours a day at the discount retail chain Poundland.
Ms Reilly told reporters outside the Royal Courts of Justice that she was never granted the promised interview at the end of the placement and has not found work since.
But she was happy to have made a point on others' behalf, she said.
"Forcing people to work for free does nothing to tackle long-term employment," she said.
"Poundland got free labour - I got nothing."
Inside the courtroom Ms Reilly's counsel urged Mr Justice Foskett to strike down the Work and Pensions Secretary's "sub-delegating" of powers to private contractors to freeze her payments.
Claimants must be informed beforehand of their rights and obligations, she said anything else was "blatantly unlawful."
But Paul Nicholls QC, appearing for the Department of Work and Pensions, argued the government was not legally obliged to publish a policy for claimants about the nature of work schemes.