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Unemployed: Voluntary Work

Volume 491: debated on Monday 20 April 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps his Department is taking to encourage the long-term unemployed to engage in voluntary work. (242360)

There are already a number of flexibilities within jobseeker's allowance for claimants who are volunteers at any point during their claim. Jobseekers who do voluntary work do not have to attend a job interview or take up a job straight away. They are allowed 48 hours to attend a job interview and one week to take up a job offer. In addition any money they receive to cover expenses incurred while volunteering (for food, travel, etc.) does not affect their benefit entitlement.

Our view is that the benefit rules strike a proper balance between allowing benefit recipients to pursue voluntary activity while at the same time encouraging them to retain a clear focus on moving off welfare into paid work. Our recent White Paper, “Raising Expectations and Increasing Support” (Cm 7506, 10 December) set out our vision and route map for a welfare state where everyone is given the help they need to get back to work.