THE Government's drive to achieve full employment threatens to strip neighbourhoods of people who carry out valuable voluntary work, a report warned today.
Ministers are urged to understand that not all vital work is paid.
The call came after a study discovered that many community activities, from playgroups to health projects, are being run by volunteers.
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation said its research found a vast range of informal, unacknowledged work undertaken in areas considered to be disadvantaged by people often regarded as a drain on society.
These include single mothers and refugees.
The research, led by the New Economics Foundation, studied projects in London, the Welsh Valleys and Glasgow.
The report highlighted a youth club in a rundown area of the Welsh Valleys which was run with the help of a 28-year- old single mother, a playgroup in the same area run by two mothers and a Glasgow health project run by a single father.
"This is work that keeps local neighbourhoods safe, clean and inviting, keeps people healthy and happy and enhances people's abilities as parents, friends, neighbours, and potential employees - however this never appears in Government employment statistics," said the report.