Home > Becoming a Volunteer > Guide to Volunteering While Claiming Benefits

Guide to Volunteering While Claiming Benefits

By: Lynne Conner - Updated: 21 Nov 2016 | comments*Discuss
 
Volunteering Benefits Experience Career

Volunteering can offer a rewarding way to make the most of time spent on benefits. Not only can you gain new skills but you can also gather useful experience which may help you to find the job or career of your choice. In most cases there should be no problem with you volunteering while claiming benefits. However there are exceptions to this and you should always check with your benefits advisor before embarking on any voluntary work.

You are considered to be a volunteer if you do not receive payment for the work you do (apart from expenses), are not volunteering because of a legal obligation (such as a sentence), help out a non-profit making organisation such as a charity or help someone who is not a family member.

What About Expenses?

In many cases volunteers are reimbursed for their expenses in travelling to and from their place of volunteering. This is simply replacing out-of-pocket expenses and should not affect your benefit entitlement in any way. Other items which you can be provided with without it affecting your benefit include the cost of waterproof clothing or other special equipment, the cost of food for meals taken away from home or the cost of childcare to enable you to volunteer. All expenses need to be declared to your benefits adviser and once they are shown to be legitimate out of pocket expenses they will not be deducted from your benefits. If you receive any additional payments or allowances this may be taken into account and deducted from your payment. For example if you receive pocket money or even payment in kind.

How Many Hours Can You Volunteer For?

You can volunteer for an unlimited number of hours each week as long as you are still meeting the rules of your benefit. For example you will still need to be available for work if you are claiming Jobseekers Allowance. This means that you need to be available for an interview at 2 days notice, be seeking full-time work and able to begin a job with one week’s notice.

In some cases if you volunteer on a full-time basis and receive reimbursement from your organisation in the form of an allowance this may affect your right to claim benefits. This is an area where you definitely need to seek the advice of your benefits adviser who can clarify your rights and responsibilities in the situation. Depending on the benefit you receive you may look for advice from your local council or Job centre Plus or the Pension Service.

This is also the case where you could be paid for work but choose not to be. This is not considered to be volunteering. In this case the notional earnings that you could earn may be taken into account and deducted from your benefit if it is an income-related benefit. These include Income Support, Housing Benefit, Jobseekers Allowance and Council Tax benefit.

There is no reason at all why claiming benefits should interfere with your ability to reap the rewards of volunteering. It may even help you to bridge the gap to employment or find your way into your chosen career.

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[Add a Comment]
Tictac - Your Question:
Hi I do as much voluntary work as I can and I was doing up too 5 days a week at a doggy day care but they have decreased my hours to 2 days 10 til 2 because it is under Federation of small businesses. but every voluntary work law website I've been say anybody can do unlimited voluntary work hours. What should I do?

Our Response:
No there is no limit to the number of hours you can volunteer but some organisations might have their own policies regarding this.
VoluntaryWorker - 22-Nov-16 @ 11:16 AM
Hi I do as much voluntary work as I can and i was doing up too 5 days a week at a doggy day care but they have decreased my hours to 2 days 10 til 2 because it is under Federation of small businesses.... but every voluntary worklaw website I've been say anybody can do unlimited voluntary work hours. What should I do?
Tictac - 21-Nov-16 @ 4:19 PM
Sandra Hills - Your Question:
I volunteered to work in a charity Shop im on jsa but I have to Do 2 hours mandatory jobsearch daily in the jobcentre then 2 mandatory hours in library this is every Day even if Do volunteer still have to Do it.i dont have Home Internet so im limited to opening hours of jc and library so bow can I Fit volunteer work in ?

Our Response:
Most Job Centres open from 8.30 am so you could easily have completed your job search by 10.30am. If you went to the library from 11.30 to 1.30 - you could still do a few hours in an afternoon at the charity shop say from 2 to 5pm? It's just like a normal working day then and will certainly help with your CV.
VoluntaryWorker - 16-Sep-16 @ 10:59 AM
I volunteered to work in a charity Shop im on jsa but i have to Do 2 hours mandatory jobsearch daily in the jobcentre then 2 mandatory hours in library this is every Day even if Do volunteer still have to Do it .i dont have Home Internet so im limited to opening hours of jc and library so bow can i Fit volunteer work in ?
Sandra Hills - 15-Sep-16 @ 1:09 AM
can D.W.P make someone on J.S.A. do voluntary work against thier wishes
Coggy - 9-Jun-16 @ 2:31 PM
Hi my partner is desperate to work he has just finished a 6 months voluntary placement and wishes to continue, its extremely beneficial to him confidence and experience wise however he is claiming JSA and he has been told he can continue but only on 16 hours a week everything we have read says he could do full time volunteer work aslong as he still does all that the JSA rules request any advice or knowledge would be appreciated
clerks6898 - 21-Mar-16 @ 2:24 PM
@Aleksandrjia Brankov - as long as you are avaible for any relevant paid work that is offered you, there is no reason why you should not volunteer. Voluntary work can often improve you chances of getting paid employment too.
VoluntaryWorker - 28-Jan-15 @ 2:01 PM
I would just like to know if you ca volunteer if you are on E S A
Aleksandrjia Brankov - 26-Jan-15 @ 4:37 PM
I am trying to Support a lady with MH Issues, obtain a voluntary job, but as I understand it , she has been told that if she does not obtain a voluntary job, she will lose her benefits ?? I have approached a couple of Charity shops who will not employ her under those circumstances , they don't consider her a volunteer, as she is being forced to volunteer ??can they take her benefits away if she refuses to take a voluntary job ?? and how does she obtain one ??
Michael - 4-Jun-14 @ 8:00 AM
I have been appointed to be a non executive board member for my landlord.Will any renumeration cause me any problems as I receive ESA Support group.I know I need to inform DWP but how soon? Can I wait until I receive any money as they already know I receive permitted work at lower rate of £20 per week.
bigsean - 21-Mar-13 @ 4:52 PM
why don't they put on volunteering in hospitals i know that they could do with people to volunteer in hospitals
Pinky - 9-Mar-12 @ 10:44 AM
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