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Volunteers

Volume 451: debated on Wednesday 8 November 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether those volunteering while on benefits are entitled to claim lunch expenses without affecting their benefit entitlement; and if he will make a statement. (94426)

Volunteering plays an important role in helping people move off benefits and back into work. It gives people confidence, the chance to develop skills and to gain invaluable experience after a period out of work.

We do not want to create a situation whereby individuals are put off volunteering or are penalised from helping themselves and others because they cannot afford to buy something to eat.

We have therefore simplified the rules. Meals can now be treated as a reasonable expense which volunteers can claim back so that they are no longer expected to meet the cost of their lunch from their benefit.

The guidance contained in the volunteers handbook has been revised to reflect the simplified rules. The handbook can be found online at: www.dwp.gov.uk/publications/dwp/2006/vg1-2006.pdf