Let unemployed volunteers claim benefits, says Acevo

Charities could help alleviate unemployment, chief executives body tells minster James Purnell

Unemployed people should be able to claim benefits while volunteering with charities, according to chief executives body Acevo.

The idea is one of nine put forward in a report to James Purnell, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, examining how the third sector could help to alleviate unemployment problems.

Stephen Bubb, chief executive of Acevo, told Third Sector Online that the Government could encourage more people to volunteer by not cutting unemployment benefits, which happens if they make themselves unavailable for work by volunteering, and by providing funding for volunteering posts that people could move into.

"I've been saying to people in government that they can use the third sector for job creation and voluntary initiatives," he said. "We want to help people who have been unemployed to work in roles where they can learn new skills and move towards paid positions."

The sector was particularly well placed to create jobs in areas such as the environment, work with the elderly and health and education, said Bubb.

It was also a sector that could help people back into work because it offered large numbers of part-time roles, and many that suited people unable to work traditional nine-to-five hours.

Acevo also suggested closer co-ordination between job centres and third sector organisations that provide support and advice, such as Citizens Advice bureaux.

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