CRB guidance states that checks should be free for all volunteers. However, the agency’s monthly newsletter, CRB Disclosure News, reported that individuals will not “satisfy the CRB’s definition of a volunteer” if they “receive payments, in excess of expenses they actually incur, or benefit directly themselves”.
The newsletter said that the development was part of a crackdown to “ensure that a fee is paid whenever it is appropriate”.
Several charities have expressed concern that any volunteering placement that results in accreditation could be affected. The move, which could potentially affect the popular Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme and the Millennium Volunteers programme, comes at a time when more charities are beginning to offer opportunities that benefit volunteers.
A CSV spokesman said: “When CRB checks were introduced, we had assurance that there would be no charge for volunteers.
“The suggestion that young people who serve fulltime away from home and receive accommodation, food and an allowance are not volunteers would be to re-write history. It would limit volunteering to the children of the rich, contrary to government policy of inclusion.”
A spokesman for Volunteering England said: “We understand the need to ensure that applications for free checks for volunteer positions are genuine. We would, however, be con- cerned if minor benefits that arise as a consequence of volunteering, such as training or accreditation, are used as reasons to deny free checks.”
Debbie Usiskin, one of the founders of the Association of Volunteer Managers, said that the wording “benefiting directly” was unworkable. “All volunteers benefit directly in some way from their experience,” she said.
“There needs to be a sector- wide discussion of what it means to be a volunteer.”
A Home Office spokesman said: “The CRB is in talks with the Cabinet Office about the effect of upskilling volunteers through qualifications and the effect that this might have on the ability to meet the CRB’s criteria for free-of-charge checks.”