The Community Transport Association is calling for an immediate review of the approved mileage rate that can be claimed by volunteers owing to its growing impact on volunteer recruitment and retention.
Although the Approved Mileage Allowance Payment (AMAP) rate is primarily aimed at employees driving on company business it is also used to reimburse volunteers using their own cars in providing journeys through volunteer car schemes.
The current rate was established in 2012 at 45p per mile (after an increase of 5p) and since then, according to the RAC Foundation, the cost of motoring has increased by more than 25% and this was before the fuel cost increases as a result of the invasion of Ukraine.
The Community Transport Association is calling for an immediate review of the approved mileage rate that can be claimed by volunteers, due to its growing impact on volunteer recruitment and retention and what that means for people who rely on community transport services.
Volunteer car schemes are one of the most cost effective means of enabling people with mobility difficulties to retain their freedom and independence. These services are an essential part of the transport system in helping people access vital public services, particularly to NHS appointments.
This was recognised in the NHS England Non-Emergency Patient Transport Review Report published in August 2021 which noted “Although around three million people formally or informally volunteer in providing transport generally, healthcare schemes have reported struggling with volunteer recruitment and retention”.
Without such services people would need to rely on costlier forms of transport and we would be likely to see a growth in missed appointments, with the associated risks to health and wellbeing and additional public service costs that can come with that. In addition, Volunteer Car Schemes provide important social contact for people who are experiencing loneliness and isolation for those who would otherwise struggle to make social contact.
We understand that companies are able to make an extra payment over the approved amount which must be treated as part of an employee’s salary and disclosed to HMRC. However, this is of little benefit in respect of volunteers who are not salaried and therefore outside of the payroll processing which would manage the provision of such an additional allowance.
If a community transport provider is willing and able to pay over the approved rate it places a burden on the individual volunteer to complete a self-assessment tax return. The likely impact of this would be a further barrier to volunteer recruitment and retention.
A separation of the Approved Mileage Allowance Payment for volunteers together with index-linked increases, appears to be a fair and workable solution which would give organisations the option to enhance their reimbursement without creating an additional administrative burden for themselves or their volunteers.
We recognise that what may be required is a short-term fix, given the likely growth in use of electric vehicles which requires a more fundamental reassessment of how to fairly reimburse volunteers.
We are calling upon other charities affected by the impact of the increased cost of motoring, the HMRC and the Department for Transport to work with us and our members to find a solution to this growing problem for the benefit of all those vulnerable people who rely on volunteer car schemes to have a good quality of life and access the essential services that keep them in good shape.
We also call upon the commissioners of services involving volunteer car schemes to make adequate provision for enabling an increased allowance that will ensure providers are able to recruit and retain sufficient volunteers to fulfil their commitments.
While we welcome the temporary reduction in fuel duty, we know this won’t be enough to support the army of volunteers who power CT across the UK. We are calling upon other charities affected by the impact of the increased cost of motoring, the HMRC and the Department for Transport to work with us and our members to find a solution to this growing problem, for the benefit of the thousands of people across the country who rely on volunteer car schemes to enjoy a good quality of life. To get involved, contact the team on firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are a charity or community group experiencing similar difficulties to CTA’s members with recruiting volunteer car drivers or a membership body seeing this issue within your network please contact us via email@example.com. It would be great to collaborate!
Some examples from CTA membership:
Chatteris, Doddington, Benwick & Manea Community Car Scheme
“I feel all the schemes will close in the near future. It needs to be done urgently as I do think I am on the point of losing a third of my drivers shortly, and I believe many others are in the same position.”
Mendip Community Transport
“We were having considerable complaints from Community Car Drivers with regards to the 45p per mile.”
South Northants Volunteer Bureau
“We are in danger of our volunteers having to withdraw as the cost is now prohibitive.”
Access Plymouth Limited
“I’m talking mainly about our volunteer drivers, many of whom are older. Obviously, at the moment, we can only pay 45p per mile but some have expressed concern that, as fuel prices continue to increase it will become expensive for them.”
Community Transport Association UK is a charitable company limited by guarantee. Registered in Cardiff no. 1985361 Registered office: 12 Hilton Street M1 1JF. Registered as a charity in England and Wales no. 1002222. Charity Registered in Scotland No. SC038518.