§ Mr. Alex Carlile
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what plans he has to amend the regulations regarding availability for work and actively seeking work in the social security regulations so as to encourage those on unemployment benefit to seek work experience in the voluntary sector; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Burt
Unemployed people can take part in voluntary work as long as they are available for, and actively seeking, work. Within these conditions there are no set limits on the amount of voluntary work that they can do.
These conditions also include easements for volunteers whereby volunteers may be allowed 24 hours' notice in which to make the necessary arrangements to give up or rearrange voluntary responsibilities before taking up an offer of employment. Voluntary workers attending work camps away from their home area may be deemed to be available for work for a period of 14 days in any year.
The adjudicating authorities will look positively at the time spent on voluntary work when deciding whether a person has taken reasonable steps to find work.
We are considering measures to help the long-term unemployed to use their time constructively in a range of activities including voluntary work.