Volunteer drivers ‘can no longer afford’ to give up their time due to escalating costs

Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi is being urged to take action to help volunteer drivers continue to work for charities amid rising fuel costs.

Campaigners warn that those giving up their time for community transport schemes are being forced to give up volunteering as current mileage rates do not cover rising costs at the petrol pump.

The group, including the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) and the Community Transport Association (CTA), wants Zahawi to increase the Approved Mileage Allowance Payment (AMAP), which is the maximum level at which volunteer drivers can be reimbursed without any impact on their tax obligations or benefit entitlements.

The AMAP rate of 45p a mile was last reviewed a decade ago. Its value has reduced even further in recent months due to soaring fuel costs following Brexit and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Our members are reporting that volunteers are leaving their roles due to the cost-of-living crisis and soaring fuel costs,” said Jen Reston, chair of another of the coalition’s members the Scottish Volunteering Forum.

“This is making volunteering unaffordable for people which is not acceptable. It then impacts on the ability to deliver services, meet commitments, and support those in need of services.

“No volunteer should be out of pocket for volunteering. Volunteering cannot be an activity that can only be accessible for those who can afford it. This will further exacerbate inequalities in our communities.

“Volunteering has to be accessible for all and the mileage rate reviewed and increased, to ensure that vital services can continue.”

CTA Northern Ireland director Noeleen Lynch added: “We hear reports from our members every single day of drivers who can no longer afford to volunteer as the current AMAP rate no longer covers their expenses.

“The fuel costs crisis is having a serious knock-on impact on our members’ ability to recruit and retain volunteers and to deliver essential services.

“Given the cost-of-living pressures we’re facing, volunteering can be an added expense many cannot absorb. We strongly believe that volunteering should be affordable for everyone and that volunteers should not experience any out-of-pocket expenses.”

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