Raise volunteers' travel expenses, Government urged

Rules limiting how much volunteer drivers can be reimbursed for travel expenses before tax are a major barrier that is discouraging people from volunteering, according to the Community Transport Association.

Drivers receive 40p per mile for the first 10,000 miles they drive in a tax year, and 25p per mile thereafter. Mileage allowances exceeding this amount are taxed because they are considered to be profit.

After discussing the issue with 400 people at eight roadshows in Britain, The Community Transport Association has concluded that low tax-free mileage allowances combined with rising fuel prices is deterring potential voluntary drivers. Keith Halstead, the association’s chief executive, has written to Phil Hope, the third sector minister, to ask the Government to increase the tax-free rate to 45p per mile.

The letter reads: “I am writing to you about the urgent need to remove a major barrier to retaining and recruiting volunteers who are delivering vital services to those who are most excluded in society.

“The recruitment and retention of volunteer drivers in under threat due to the continuous rise in the costs of motoring that has not been matched by an increase in HM Revenue and Customs tax-free mileage allowances.”

The Community Transport Association is also asking voluntary organisations to take part in its online survey about the views and needs of groups using volunteers. So far, 55 per cent of organisations surveyed say that increasing fuel costs have resulted in the loss of volunteer drivers or have caused problems finding new ones.

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