State benefits and volunteering

Download the official guide to volunteering whilst on benefits

Although there can be confusion over whether volunteering affects an individual’s benefits or not – including amongst some Jobcentre Plus staff – the rules are actually quite simple.

In most cases, there’s no limit to the amount of volunteering that someone can do whilst claiming benefits, as long as they continue to meet the conditions of those benefits.

Definition of voluntary work
All benefits rulings agree that voluntary work is work for a not-for-profit organisation, or work for someone who is not a member of your family, where only reasonable expenses are paid.

General guidance is:

If someone is receiving benefits they must keep to the rules for receiving them

If someone is receiving benefits they must speak to Jobcentre Plus, their local council or whoever pays the benefit before starting volunteering

Volunteers must only be reimbursed for actual out of pocket expenses.  Volunteers must tell whoever pays their benefits if they receive expenses payments

For more specific guidance have a look at Volunteering England’s Volunteering and state benefits information sheet.

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