Volunteering can provide a stepping stone into paid work. Volunteering can help you to become more employable. You can:-
• learn new skills • practise the skills you have •
• become more confident • improve your CV • pick up good ideas •
• show employers you can be reliable • meet people • make useful contacts •
• have things to talk about in a job interview • get references •
BUT … CAN YOU VOLUNTEER WITHOUT AFFECTING YOUR STATE BENEFITS?
The short answer is … YES! People are allowed to volunteer while claiming state benefits, including means-tested benefits such as Job Seekers’ Allowance, Incapacity Benefit and Income Support, just so long as the rules are followed. Read on for basic guidance and links to other sources of information.
What is volunteering?
You choose to give your time and energy to benefit other people, or the environment, without being paid for it. But you can receive actual expenses, so you needn’t be out of pocket.
As a volunteer, you could:
- volunteer with a charity or other voluntary organisation
- volunteer with a public-sector organisation, or
- help your community
It is not volunteering if you:
- do something for a family member
- are given money apart from your expenses, or
- are under contract to do it (this does not include any volunteer agreement you may have).
The general rules – 2 important things to know:-
Informing benefits advisors
It is compulsory for people claiming benefits to notify their advisers that they are volunteering.
Form ES672VJP has to be completed. It is often reported that people are put off volunteering because of misunderstandings around benefits. Volunteer Centres, and volunteer managers within organisations, can support volunteers by providing information which reassures the Jobcentre about the nature of the volunteering role.
Only actual out of pocket expenses can be reimbursed to volunteers. Any kind of extra payment jeopardises a person’s right to claim state benefits, and benefits claims can be reduced or suspended. e.g. if a volunteer pays £4.30 for travel every day, it might seem easier to round the sum up to £5, but this is not a reimbursement of an actual expense and would constitute a payment.
Volunteers will usually need to produce receipts, bus tickets etc. and complete a simple claim form. Sometimes benefits claimants need to inform their Jobcentre Plus or benefits advisor about their volunteer expenses. People receiving Housing Benefit should also inform their local authority about their volunteer expenses.