Does Volunteering Affect Your Universal Credit Claim?

If you are looking for an answer to the question of whether or not volunteering affects your Universal Credit claim, you will find detailed guidance through the discussion we have on this topic in the following blog post.

Does Volunteering Affect Your Universal Credit Claim?

In general, volunteering should not affect your entitlement to Universal Credit, since you are rendering services free of cost with no income. If you are volunteering, the nature of your work should be such that you:

  • do not receive compensation for the work you do
  • are not legally obliged to volunteer
  • volunteer for a not-for-profit organisation
  • work for someone who is not a family member

However, it’s always best to inform the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) about any voluntary work you are doing.

While volunteering, you may still be eligible for Universal Credit as long as you continue to meet the other eligibility criteria, such as being on a low income or not having substantial savings. However, if you start to earn money from your volunteering work, this may affect your Universal Credit payments.

When you report your volunteering activities to the DWP, they will consider whether your voluntary work will impact your availability for work or your ability to look for work. If they believe that it does, they may ask you to adjust your volunteering hours or activities so that you can still meet your Universal Credit work-related requirements.

Does Volunteering Affect Your Claimant Commitment?

Whether or not your volunteering activities will affect your Claimant Commitment depends on the number of hours that you’ve committed in your agreement to look for work or spend on work-related activities. 

If you need to reduce those committed hours due to volunteering, then your Claimant Commitment and Universal Credit claim will be at risk.

However, you can talk to your work coach and work out mutually agreeable hours. For instance, if you are asked to look for work for at least 30 hours each week, you can ask your work coach if you can spend half of them while volunteering.

Do You Have To Inform DWP If You Are Volunteering?

Yes, you have to inform DWP if you are volunteering. You can do this by contacting your Jobcentre Plus office in England, Scotland or Wales or the Jobs and Benefits offices in Northern Ireland.

When you inform your local Jobcentre Plus office about volunteering, you will have to provide some details about your work. This includes:

  • the number of hours you will be volunteering for each day
  • the number of days you will be volunteering for each week
  • whether the days and hours of your volunteer work will be the same or different each week
  • the details of your role as a volunteer
  • whether you will get any expenses to cover work-related costs such as commute and equipment
  • if you expect to receive any other amount than this
  • if you expect to receive anything else other than money for the volunteer work you do


The above discussion helps to conclude that volunteering may not necessarily affect your Universal Credit claim since you don’t earn an income when you volunteer; however, the hours you spend while volunteering can affect the hours you’re committed to looking for work as part of your Claimant Commitment. Therefore, it’s advisable to discuss your plans with your work coach before you start volunteering.


Volunteering and claiming benefits – GOV.UK

Volunteering while on benefits | nidirect

How volunteering affects your benefits – overview – Citizens Advice