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NCVO comment on LGA council tax discount for volunteers proposal

Commenting on the LGA proposal for council tax discounts for volunteers, Justin Davis Smith, executive director for volunteering and development at the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, which represents charities in England, said:

‘We very much welcome any ideas for promoting volunteering, but this proposal raises both practical problems and questions of principle.

‘To monitor volunteers’ involvement and to prevent abuse it would be necessary to create an inspection and audit regime that would be burdensome for both charities and local authorities. Charities would not welcome the role of being gatekeepers to these incentives.

‘The principle of volunteering is that it is done freely. There comes a point where rewards for volunteering muddy the water and undermine this principle, and this proposal is certainly approaching that point. It also risks falling foul of minimum wage legislation which requires volunteers to be unpaid.

‘Given the absence of evidence that this would be an effective incentive to volunteer, councils that are keen to encourage volunteering would do best to invest in opening up their services to the involvement of local charities and volunteers and in supporting local organisations such as Volunteer Centres.’

Further information

Please contact Aidan Warner in the NCVO press office.

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