A benefits bonus for volunteering could increase access to opportunities during an unemployment crisis

The issue We are facing an ‘unemployment crisis’ affecting around 5% of the UK population. With the furlough scheme due to end in April 2021, many may find that ‘their role is no longer viable’. The pandemic has accelerated a move to digitisation and the closure of many high street retailers. Unemployment is associated with poor health alongside more obvious economic consequences. The opportunity On the flipside of reduced opportunities for paid employment, there has been a dramatic increase in those pursuing voluntary roles. One organisation found a threefold increase in demand whilst more than half of all residents in Powys now volunteer. When looking at how society might improve post pandemic, Mark Rowland (CEO of the Mental Health Foundation) highlighted increased voluntary participation as having enabled us to glimpse at ‘a kinder society’. The economic value of volunteering is clear, with estimates that volunteering contributed 23.9 billion pounds to the UK economy in 2016. The current unemployment crisis presents a unique opportunity for the government to recognise this value. I propose a financial incentive in the form of a benefits bonus for those who want to engage in voluntary work that benefits their local communities. Rationale Volunteering provides a sense of purpose in addition to improved health outcomes with multiple mental and physical benefits. Despite these benefits, it has been demonstrated that access to voluntary work is currently skewed towards those from higher socioeconomic classes. A benefits bonus for volunteering would enable increased diversity within the voluntary sector and provide individuals who may otherwise face long term unemployment with opportunities to develop skills that improve future employment opportunities. Lastly, with concerns that there are deepening divisions within the UK, volunteering can improve social cohesion, facilitate intercultural dialogue and increase connectedness between people and their communities.




Leave a Reply