Community volunteers should get a council tax cut – or should they? | Voluntary Sector Network
The volunteers, who work in their local community, are set to benefit from municipal tax cuts, according to a new scheme proposed by the Local Government Association (LGA).
The association, which represents councils in England and Wales, said tax breaks should be given to ‘community heroes’ – those who volunteer to help run services such as local libraries , museums and leisure centres.
Political parties are being pressured by the LGA to include a pledge in their manifestos for the 2015 general election to fund a new volunteer scheme to support voluntary work across the country. The program aims to reward those currently volunteering while encouraging others to move forward, according to the LGA.
There has been a mixed reaction in the sector – some welcome it and others fear it means the essence of volunteerism is lost. A selection of leaders, including the LGA President Councilor, told us what they thought.
But we also want to hear from you – is this a good realistic scheme? What about those who volunteer outside their community? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section or tweet us @GdnVoluntary.
David Sparks – President Advisor, Local Government Association
“We must do more to recognize and encourage people who give their free time for the good of their community. The contribution of people who give their free time to help a local charity, support the library or provide a meal and a friendly face to an elderly neighbor cannot be underestimated.
“These community heroes don’t just improve the lives of those they directly support. In times of austerity, they’ve relieved strained services and eased the burden on local ratepayers.
“In some parts of the country, those who volunteer already get a small cut. But with the huge cuts to local government budgets, it’s an offer that many councils can’t afford to make.
“By making money available for a ‘community contribution discount’ to reward local volunteers, the next government can help raise the profile of volunteering and encourage a new generation of volunteers to step up. This would not only recognize the fantastic work of volunteers, but could help save the public purse several million dollars more than it costs. »
Debra Allcock Tyler – Managing Director, Directory of Social Change
“It’s great to see the LGA recognizing that volunteering is important to local communities and exploring policy ideas to support it. The charity sector needs local government to engage with it in a more constructive way and cooperative. However, we do not agree with this proposition – volunteering should be giving without expectation of financial compensation – otherwise it is not volunteering. If people volunteer with the expectation of council tax reduction, are we really going to get people to do it for the right reasons?
“Furthermore, how would this scheme be run? Who decides what level of volunteering is sufficient to reap the benefits? The costs and complexity would likely outweigh the benefits. Local councils could better support volunteering and charitable activities retaining tariff relief for organizations to reduce it) and providing core grants to charities – including volunteer offices – that have the expertise to support volunteers.”
Justin Davis Smith – Executive Director for Volunteering and Development, National Council of Voluntary Organizations
”We very much welcome any idea to promote volunteering, but this proposal raises both practical problems and questions of principle.
“To monitor the involvement of volunteers and prevent abuse, it would be necessary to create an inspection and audit regime which would be binding on both charities and local authorities. Charities would not appreciate the role as guardians of these incentives.
“The principle of volunteering is that it is done freely. There comes a time when rewards for volunteering muddy the waters and undermine that principle, and this proposal certainly approaches that point. minimum wage that forces volunteers to be unpaid.
“Given the lack of evidence that this would be an effective incentive for volunteering, councils wishing to encourage volunteering would be better off investing in opening up their departments to the participation of local charities and volunteers and in support from local organizations such as volunteer centers.
Emma-Jane Cross – Managing Director and Founder, The BB Group
“We see volunteers making a life-changing impact on our charities every day, which is why we welcome any proposal to recognize the incredible work they do and also to encourage more people to volunteer their time and skills. to help us solve social problems.
“However, many of our volunteers support young people across the UK as well as in their own communities through our digital platforms, so focusing solely on ‘community contribution’ understates the value they have for the community. society as a whole.
“Furthermore, the council tax approach will limit the number of people who can benefit from it because it applies to households rather than individuals. What needs to be determined is whether this mechanism is the most effective incentive to unlock a new generation of committed public servants.”
Simon Gillespie – Chief Executive, British Heart Foundation
“We want all volunteers to be recognized in their local community for the incredible contribution they make. We would like to understand the criteria set out by the LGA to ensure that all volunteers are fairly recognized for the contribution they make.
“It’s also important to make sure it’s something volunteers actually want and we need to ensure that they are always seen and see themselves as giving their time selflessly and not for financial gain. “
So what do you think? Don’t forget to leave your comments below…
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