‘Everyone’ agrees that volunteering is a very good thing. The Prime Minister said earlier this month that he envisages new schemes under which ‘all young people will undertake some service to their community, and where community service will become a normal part of growing up in Britain’. These will add to the many existing government initiatives which promote volunteering.
But do bureaucracy and a lack of coordination across government departments create barriers to people volunteering? Our new report suggests that this might be so.
We make three primary recommendations:
- To form a working group of key organisations to address the issues with the objective of simplification.
- In the interim, Directgov (the public services website) should co-ordinate the existing information from the various government silos into as close to a coherent whole as is currently possible.
- Volunteers should be able to donate their expense reimbursement under Gift Aid to a charity or other qualifying organisation that they are volunteering for, without layers of bureaucracy.
The Chairman of the Low Incomes Tax Reform Group, John Andrews said:
“It would be good to move to a position where the volunteer and those who engage them have simple rules which are understandable to all. Volunteers prefer to help rather than to complete paperwork and look over their shoulders in case something is wrong.”
Mike Locke, Director of Public Affairs at Volunteering England, commented:
“Expenses reimbursement for volunteers is an important issue to get right, and at Volunteering England we have spent a lot of time over the years advocating best practice. We welcome this timely report from LITRG and look forward to Government picking up the challenge to rationalise systems so that they do not act as obstacles to taking up volunteering opportunities, especially among people on low income.”
Our report analyses the conflicting rules of three Government departments and the level of misunderstanding and confusion which often occurs in the volunteering world.
The three primary government departments that get involved in some depth in considering the nature of volunteer expense reimbursement are:
- The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), who worry that reimbursements might have to be taken into account for benefits purposes
- HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), who worry that reimbursements could be disguised income
- The Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform (BERR), who worry that reimbursements could be disguised pay to avoid the national minimum wage rules.
The time has come for all parts of Government to work together to make life easier for charity and community volunteers, not erect barriers in their path.
The full report can be accessed from the link below.
Contact Name: John Andrews (Tel: 0844 579 6700 Fax 0844 579 6701)
To open the file click below:
Volunteers' Expenses Report