'Allow us to pay unemployed for community work'

Community associations should be allowed to pay unemployed people to do community work without it affecting their benefits, a group of third sector organisations has told the Government.

The Create Consortium has met Stephen Timms, the employment minister, in a bid to persuade the Government to pilot the idea, which the consortium is calling the “community allowance”.

The consortium is made up of representatives from umbrella bodies the British Urban Regeneration Association and the Development Trusts Association, government advisory body the National Community Forum, east London charity Community Links and social enterprise Slivers of Time.

It is asking for people to be allowed to earn up to £4,305 a year for carrying out work in their local communities without it affecting their benefit entitlements. The sum is equivalent to what someone would earn working 15 hours a week at the minimum wage.

Naomi Alexander, co-ordinator for the consortium, said the meeting with Timms had been positive. “There is no available data on the benefits of this because it would be illegal to do it,” she said. “So we want to gather the evidence by having the permission to do a pilot.”

Alexander also urged supporters to lobby their local MPs to back the proposal.

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