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Sabbath-benefit victory

19 July 2013

SHUTTERSTOCK

A JEWISH man has won his appeal against the withholding of benefit because he was unavailable for work on Friday evenings and Saturdays, owing to his sabbath observance.

Jacob Slinger, aged 19, a former university student from Greater Manchester, belongs to the Charedi Jewish community. The Jobcentre Plus in Prestwich, North Manchester, refused to grant him £56.80 a week jobseeker's allowance on the grounds that his unavailability was "not reasonable".

Mr Slinger, whose case was reported in the Jewish Chronicle earlier this month, was denied benefits for more than six months, and told that he must work on the Sabbath, even though he argued that he was available for 53 hours a week. Jobseekers are required to be available for a minimum of 35 hours a week.

Judge David Hewitt said in the social entitlement chamber of a tribunal that adjudicates benefits disputes that, even within the restraints that Mr Slinger had set himself, he had reasonable prospects of securing employment. The decision to deny him benefits was therefore found to be wrong, and the Department for Work and Pensions was ordered to pay Mr Slinger arrears of more than £1500.

This decision does not set a precedent, since the tribunal is not a court of record. It could, though, encourage others who have been refused benefits on similar grounds.

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