HC Deb 28 November 2002 vol 395 c468W
Sue Doughty

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if the Government plans to reform the rules on availability for work to make it easier for people out of paid employment to take voluntary work; and if he will make a statement. [80407]

Mr. Nicholas Brown

We have laid before Parliament draft regulations which will amend the rules on availability for work for jobseeker's allowance recipients. Subject to parliamentary approval, these regulations will extend from 48 hours to one week the period of notice before jobseekers who engage in voluntary work must be available to start employment. In order to ensure that they do not miss out on job opportunities, jobseekers who undertake voluntary work will still be required to be available for an interview at 48 hours' notice.

This relaxation in the rules should make it easier for people out of paid employment to make a greater commitment to volunteering by allowing them to give a week's notice before having to start a job. It should also make it more worthwhile for voluntary organisations to take on unemployed volunteers and offer them development and training opportunities.

We propose to introduce the changes nationally for a trial period of a year so that an evaluation can take place.