Can I claim benefits whilst volunteering?

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Can I claim benefits whilst volunteering?

People are allowed to volunteer while claiming state benefits, including means-tested benefits such as jobseeker's allowance (JSA), incapacity benefit, income support, and employment and support allowance (ESA). You can volunteer as many hours as you like while you're getting benefits as long as you keep to the rules for getting them.

The rules vary, depending upon the nature of the benefits you receive, but the following basic principles apply:

  1. Your volunteering must comply with the Government definition of volunteering;
  2. You must notify your job coach or benefits adviser if you intend to start volunteering;
  3. The only payment relating to your volunteering can be the reimbursement of out-of-pocket expenses;
  4. You must follow the rules for your specific benefits, including any plans or agreements you have in place.

If you are considering taking up a volunteering role and require advice on how this may impact your benefits, please contact your Students' Union Student Advice Centre for free, impartial and confidential advice.

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