§ Mr. Charles R. Morris
asked the Secretary of State for Employment what is the basis in law for the obligation referred to in his Department's UBL 18 (July 1982) leaflet, for unemployed persons to inform his Department of any voluntary work undertaken even if it is unpaid or only for a few hours.
§ Mr. Gummer
Section 17(1) of the Social Security Act 1975 provides that for someone to receive unemployment benefit he must be available for work. This means he must be willing and able to take up a job immediately. A similar condition applies to supplementary benefit claimants. The Government are nevertheless keen to encourage unemployed people to make good use of their time, and consequently in March 1982 the Social Security (Unemployment, Sickness and Invalidity Benefit) Regulations 1975 were amended to give benefit claimants wider scope for doing voluntary work.
However, officials have to ensure that benefit is properly paid and need to know whether any voluntary work infringes the rules.