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Friday, August 04, 2006

Volunteering Lunch Expenses Campaign.

We need your support for the Volunteering England lunch expenses campaign.

As part of Volunteering England’s ‘Right to Reasonable Expenses’ lunch campaign, we are urging volunteers and volunteer involving organisations to join us in Volunteering England’s Lunch Expenses Protest Week. We want you to post your lunch receipt to the Secretary of State The Rt. Hon. John Hutton MP at the Department for Work and Pensions to illustrate the true cost of buying lunch outside the home.

Volunteering England Protest Week will run from Monday 14th August to Monday 21st August 2006.

We must convince the DWP to withdraw their guidance ‘A guide to volunteering while on Benefits’.

We need your support to maximise the protest week.

Please forward this email to all volunteers and volunteering involving organisations you know. We are also calling on umbrella bodies that have a wider membership to circulate this message as widely as possible.

We have until Monday 21st August to make a real difference to 2 millions volunteers who could be affected by the guidance.

Below is the wording of the letter template for you to use.

    To the Rt. Hon. John Hutton MP on the issue of volunteer lunch expenses.

    Please find attached receipts for the cost of lunch whilst volunteering. The new interpretation in the Department for Work and Pensions ‘A Guide to Volunteering While on Benefits’ prevents volunteers on benefit from claiming reasonable expenses. We believe that:

  • the guidance issued by the Department for Work and Pensions is unfair and contradictory and should be withdrawn

  • lunch expenses are a legitimate expense, the cost of which should be reimbursed to benefit claimants whilst volunteering

  • nearly two million people may now face an unnecessary barrier to volunteering which directly contradicts government’s expressed aim of opening up access to volunteering to disadvantaged groups.

The message and receipts should be sent to:

The Rt. Hon. John Hutton MP
Secretary of State
Department for Work and Pensions,
Richmond House,
79 Whitehall

Further Information
For more information about the work and services of Volunteering England, please visit our web site.

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Anonymous said...

Buying lunch is really expensive - that's why I make my own and take it to work with me every day. I'm not sure why this isn't an option for people volunteering. You can get little re-usable ice blocks for about £1 from camping shops and they keep food cool for a morning. I know this is easy for me to say because I work and I have the option and I'm sure that just like at work there are bound to be circumstances where it's not possible to take your own lunch but I do think that expecting the taxpayer to reimburse the cost of an expensive lunch for every benefit claimant volunteer, every day that they volunteer when the alternative is (a) cheaper and (b) what I'm sure the great majority of ordinary workers do is a bit much.

Anonymous said...

anonymous ... the great majority of workers also get paid a wage for the work they do! there are a whole load of health, social care and community services that would completely disappear without volunteers who are prepared to put in their time and energy for nothing. i don't think it's too much for them to expect a bit of lunch in return. and for what it's worth, most organisations would have a policy that only allows you to be reimbursed for say, up to £4 for lunch - so hardly "expensive".

Anonymous said...

Survivorworker... spending £20 a week is too expensive for me (and I get paid a wage which I work very hard for) I which is precisely why I take my own lunch! The whole part of the article is that lunch is expensive and £4 per lunch is too much to expect benefit claimants to fork out. I agree - it is too expensive for them as it is too expensive for most people who aren't claiming benefits and who work around it. Your argument seems to be that benefits are so low that it's fine for claimants to supplement their benefits with lunch expenses for volunteering and that can't be right. I have been on benefits which I know are pitifully low and am all in favour of raising the level of benefits but this campaign seems to be attempting that by the back door. I'm sorry, but if I can put the time and effort into making my own sandwiches (which I have to do because I can't afford to pay £4 a day for my lunch), I don't see why a volunteer benefits claimant can't take their sandwiches along with them too. After all, presumably benefits claimants would be having lunch at home anyway wouldn't they? If they can't afford to do that then it is absolutely right to fight to raise the level of benefits but not via volunteer lunch expenses! Please explain why you have so much difficulty with that simple concept. I take your point that volunteers put in a lot of time and energy for nothing and I know that this is a controversial point but I find it rather hard to take to read that apparantly so very many of our health, social care and community services depend on volunteers on benefits who have the energy and ability to put in lots of hard work at their volunteer jobs (indeed, that the volunteer sector would verily collapse without them)but those same people very curiously don't have the energy or ability to find paid work. The fact is, people on benefits are not putting in their time and energy for nothing - they are being supported by the state (albeit not very generously) to generally do fuck all most of the time and I don't see why the taxpayer should fork out for a free lunch for these people when most taxpayers can't actually afford to buy the same lunch for themselves.