The Channel 4 News had an interesting interview with Chris Grayling a couple of days ago where he insisted that the Work Experience scheme was optional despite being presented with a letter suggesting the contrary. There’s a copy of a similar letter with a bit of analysis here. Let’s take a charitable view and assume that Chris Grayling is telling the truth when he claims that the scheme is voluntary, despite C4 News sending a copy of the letter to his press officer. How come there’s a disconnect between what he says and how the scheme works in practice? Simple. It’s a mixture of Chinese whispers, internal politics, and “interpretation”. Senior managers (or ministers) usually exist in a bubble of yes-men. The yes-men act as something of a 2-way firewall to make sure the boss only hears a carefully filtered version, and “suggestions” from the boss become “guidelines” and later rules as they go down the food-chain

Also, the letter is very carefully written to provide plausible deniability. It refers to Section 19(5)(b) of the Jobseekers Act 1995. Section 19 covers “Circumstances in which a jobseeker’s allowance is not payable.” and subsection 5 says this:
(5)The circumstances referred to in subsections (1) and (2) are that the claimant—

(a)has, without good cause, refused or failed to carry out any jobseeker’s direction which was reasonable, having regard to his circumstances;
(b)has, without good cause

(i)neglected to avail himself of a reasonable opportunity of a place on a training scheme or employment programme;
(ii)after a place on such a scheme or programme has been notified to him by an employment officer as vacant or about to become vacant, refused or failed to apply for it or to accept it when offered to him;
(iii)given up a place on such a scheme or programme; or
(iv)failed to attend such a scheme or programme on which he has been given a place; or

(c)has lost his place on such a scheme or programme through misconduct.

[my emphasis]