Free Lunch for Volunteers

New rules will mean people on benefits who volunteer will no longer have to bear the cost of their meals announced Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, John Hutton today. Unlike childcare costs and special clothing, meal time costs have never been an expense that could be disregarded for benefits purposes when an individual is volunteering. The change will mean that in future, meals will be treated as an expense that volunteers can claim back. Previously, they were expected to meet the cost of meals out of their benefits.

John Hutton said: “This simplification of the rules is to ensure that volunteers are not penalised for doing the right thing. We do not want a situation where individuals are put off from volunteering because they can not afford to buy something to eat.

“Volunteering plays an important role in helping people off benefits and back into work. It gives them confidence and the chance to develop skills that are invaluable after a period out of work.

“We will be working closely with charities and volunteering organisations over the coming weeks and months to implement the changes quickly and smoothly as possible.

I am convinced this will help reassure and encourage more people to get involved with the voluntary sector.”

Dame Elisabeth Hoodless, Executive Director of CSV, the UK’s largest volunteering charity, said: “Volunteers everywhere will welcome this development which will confirm the government’s commitment to involving volunteers from every background in their important work: raising children’s reading standards; protecting the environment; supporting hospital patients and strengthening communities nationwide. Every volunteer gives a unique gift of time and care and every one should be reimbursed for any costs they incur, including lunch.”