Pressure from retailers has caused the government to backtrack and remove sanctions on Work Experience participants.

All benefit sanctions on the government’s Work Experience scheme are to be dropped by the Department for Work and Pensions.

Representatives of Argos, Asda, Superdrug and Tesco were among the 50 business leaders who met with employment minister Chris Grayling to decide the future of the government’s controversial scheme today.

The Work Experience scheme has come under fire as those who leave the eight-week placement after more than a week are docked two week’s benefits.

Poundland and Boots pulled out of the Work Programme while Argos, Superdrug and Matalan suspended their involvement in the Work Experience programme.

Of the 34,200 people who have been through the Work Experience scheme, just over 220 people have failed to complete the scheme and been sanctioned.

HMV, which runs an internal programme, is also reviewing its work experience policy while Tesco offered a paid alternative alongside the scheme.

The Work Programme compels the long-term unemployed to go on mandatory placements, it differs from the government’s voluntary Work Experience programme which both sit within its Get Britain Working initiative.

Sanctions will still apply in cases of gross misconduc including those that repeatedly refuse to turn up or act inappropriately - such as stealing or racist abuse.