I spotted this very welcome news item in a Third Sector Magazine ebulletin:
Communities minister Andrew Stunell wants Jobcentre Plus staff to stop telling claimants they will lose benefits if they volunteer.
Communities minister Andrew Stunell has pledged to stop Jobcentre Plus staff from deterring unemployed people from volunteering by incorrectly saying they will lose their Jobseeker’s Allowance if they do. Speaking at a fringe event at the Liberal Democrat party conference, Stunell said some staff at Jobcentre Plus mistakenly believed jobseekers would not be entitled to benefits if they did voluntary work. “One of the first things I discovered when I looked into this issue was that the Department for Work and Pensions provides Jobcentre Plus staff with a workbook full of information about jobseekers and volunteering,” he said. “But almost none of the people behind the counter have seen this book. “We need to make sure the people giving advice understand the rules. This could be as simple as asking managers to make sure staff read the workbooks.” There is no limit on the number of hours jobseekers can spend doing voluntary work, as long as they are also actively seeking work and are available for job interviews.
If you hear that JobCentre Plus are telling your volunteers that they are either not allowed to volunteer or that there is a limit to the amount of volunteering they can do, please let us know at the Volunteer Centre and we’ll take this up with the minister.