Check out the latest guidance on universal credit and how it affects the number of hours that you can volunteer.
NCVO is working to improve the information available regarding volunteering whilst on benefits, including universal credit. (They are hoping to publish this as soon as possible, and can confirm a date for publication very soon.)
NCVO continues to engage with the DWP to improve the information provided within JobCentres to job coaches, and this is ongoing.
NCVO has received this query: ‘I’ve just discovered that a colleague is telling people that if they are claiming job seekers allowance or universal credit they cannot volunteer for more than 17.5 hours a week. Is this new and is it something we should be passing on, as we have always said that provided you are still looking for work, you can volunteer as much as you like.’
And their response:
Our understanding is as follows:
· You can still volunteer if you are on Universal credit as long as you also undertake any activities, such as job searching, training or other requirements identified by your Jobcentre Plus adviser. This is likely to be part of a claimant commitment.
· Volunteering can count as taking “reasonable action” to find a job – it can count up to 50% of the time you are expected to be looking for a job. If you are in the category “all work-related requirements”, this means that
o if you are required to spend 35 hours a week looking for a full-time job, half of this time (17.5 hours) can be spent volunteering
o if you only volunteer five hours a week, then you will be required to spend 30 hours looking for work
o if you are looking for part-time work, eg 16 hours a week, you can volunteer for up to 8 hours and spend the rest of the time looking for work
o this will not apply to you if you are in one of the other categories (no requirements, work-focussed interview or work preparation).
· There are no restrictions on how many hours you can volunteer, but you will be required to spend at least 17.5 hours a week job seeking if you are looking for full time work, or half the expected number of part-time hours.
This will be covered in more detail in the guidance which will be published soon.
If you have any questions now, please contact our Best Practice Manager Rupal by email or phone 020 7424 9990. Thanks!