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How volunteering affects your benefits - overview

You can volunteer as many hours as you want each week and your benefits won’t be affected. However, depending on the benefits you receive, there are a few things you should know before you start.

Volunteering is unpaid work for someone other than a close relative - for example, working for a charity or not for profit organisation. If you’re a volunteer, you’ll have no contract of employment. This means you decide how many hours you want to volunteer each week.

You won’t be paid for your work, but can be paid for out of pocket expenses. This includes money spent on food, travel or childcare costs whilst volunteering.

If you get Jobseeker’s Allowance or Income Support

Tell your local Jobcentre Plus office when you plan to start volunteer work. They might also want to see receipts for any out of pocket expenses you’re paid whilst volunteering, so hold on to these if you can.

You should keep actively looking for work - and you should still be available to attend a job interview with 48 hours notice. Volunteering might count as looking for work if:

  • it’s likely to help you find a job
  • it’s reasonable that you’re not being paid for the work you’re doing as a volunteer

Check with your local Jobcentre Plus office if you’re not sure if the volunteering counts as looking for work.

If you can’t work because you’re sick or disabled, you should still tell your Jobcentre Plus office and keep any receipts for and out of pocket expenses. If you get Incapacity Benefit, you should still be available to attend any required meetings or interviews.

If you get Carer’s Allowance

Tell your local Jobcentre Plus office when you plan to start volunteer work. They might want to see receipts for any out-of-pocket expenses you’re paid whilst volunteering, so hold on to these if you can.

You can volunteer for as many hours as you like, as long as you can still provide at least 35 hours of care each week.

If you get Housing Benefit or a Council Tax Reduction

Tell your local council when you plan to start volunteer work. They might want to see receipts for any out-of-pocket expenses you’re paid whilst volunteering, so hold on to these if you can.

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