HMRC have gone after firms that take on interns without pay and claiming a breach of minimum wage. The only reason HMRC are managing to get away with it is because these young people have fixed hours, so it seems that the issue is not one of principle but one of technicality . This is a typical situation that pushes creative minds to find loopholes.
Working unpaid for a several months is a fantastic way of giving a young person the vital experience needed to progress. I have witnessed it myself through my employment charity. One of the employers we worked with was a local authority , so here we have joined up government in action.
What we need is to sweep away all the tax rules and have an independent committee that will decide on a case by case basis whether something should or should not have been taxable. In the meantime the tax is paid until such time it is ruled to be refundable .Surely it is much easier than the hotch potch we have now and certainly no less fairer than the current lottery.