Press Release: Lunch
expenses for all volunteers
I issued the following press release on 1 September
MP scores victory as Government allows volunteers on benefits to claim
Jones, MP for Birmingham Selly Oak, has welcomed a recent letter from the Department for
Work and Pensions (DWP), which confirms that volunteers will be able to receive lunch
expenses whilst claiming Jobseekers Allowance and Income Support.
claimants are not entitled to receive lunch expenses from the organisation they are
volunteering for, because money for lunch is already provided in their benefit payment. But lunch on the High Street costs much more than
making lunch at home, meaning that volunteers on benefits are being left out of pocket.
in Government policy came after Lynne Jones MP wrote to the DWP Minister, James Plaskitt
MP, asking for his response to this unfair regulation.
Lynne Jones MP was alerted to this issue by a constituent who worked with
volunteers in the local branch of a national charity.
highlighted the problem to Department of Health officials at a meeting of the All Party
Parliamentary Group on Mental Health, which she chairs.
Department of Health officials pledged to raise it with the DWP separately.
Jones MP says:
This rule is unjust and creates a barrier to
people on benefits volunteering in the first place. This
is especially important as volunteering is often a crucial stepping stone to getting a
full-time job. It allows people to remain
engaged with the job market and gain new skills and confidence.
August, Lynne Jones MP received a letter from Mr Plaskitt which admitted that it costs more to buy a takeaway meal, or eat out,
than it does to eat at home and pledged that reasonable meal costs
can be disregarded
for benefit purposes where a person is undertaking voluntary activity. The
change to the regulations will be implemented as quickly as possible.
Jones MP says:
I am delighted that common sense has prevailed. People on benefits shouldnt be out of pocket
because they want to contribute to society by volunteering.
The Government has recognised this and I welcome the speed with which the
DWP has reviewed its policy.