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Jobseeker's Allowance: Voluntary Work

Work and Pensions written question – answered on 10th July 2008.

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Photo of Tom Levitt Tom Levitt Labour, High Peak

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what advice Jobcentre Plus officers give to jobseeker's allowance claimants on their freedom to undertake in volunteering activities whilst claiming benefits.

Photo of James Plaskitt James Plaskitt Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Work and Pensions

The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the chief executive of Jobcentre Plus, Lesley Strathie. I have asked her to provide the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Lesley Strathie, dated 10 July 2008:

The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question about what advice Jobcentre Plus officers give to Jobseeker's Allowance claimants on their freedom to partake in volunteering activities while claiming benefits. This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.

Voluntary activity can play an important part in helping unemployed people keep in touch with the labour market and obtain the confidence, skills and experience that may be of benefit in terms of helping them into work. People of working age in receipt of all benefits are riot limited in how much voluntary work they do, so long as they continue to meet the usual entitlement conditions.

Turning more specifically to Jobseeker's Allowance and customers interested in volunteering or currently participating at the time of claiming benefit, we provide information, advice and guidance on the benefits in terms of finding work; and about the special provisions in place to help facilitate participation while maintaining entitlement to benefit. For example:

unlike the majority of jobseekers who must be immediately available for an interview and for full-time employment, people who are volunteers must be able to attend an interview at 48 hours notice and, if successful, start work within one week; and volunteers should neither gain nor lose financially as a result of their volunteering, so money paid to refund expenses incurred or expected to be incurred through volunteering, e.g. travel costs, meals, cost of child care, special clothing and overnight accommodation, will be disregarded for benefit purposes.

Further information is in the leaflet 'Volunteering While Unemployed Helps Others and Can Help You', which is available through Jobcentres and is currently being updated; and the DWP publication 'A Guide to Volunteering While on Benefits', which is available at

http://www.dwp.gov.uk/publications/dwp/2006/va1-2006.pdf.

I hope this information is helpful.

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