ADUR VOLUNTARY ACTION
Adur's communities, working together
AVA supports the Living Wage campaign, Don't Cut Us Out, Keep Volunteering Voluntary and the National Coalition for Independent Action
Council Tax discounts to local volunteers?
Do you agree that volunteers should receive discounts on their Council Tax? Who would qualify, and why? What about those in receipt of discounts already? Would wealthier people benefit more? Surely such a payment would reduce funds available to deliver local authority services? How would we know that volunteering provided an effective replacement? Are there plans for rigorous evaluation? Would some people simply prefer to pay their tax to ensure quality local services? Is this really what volunteering is all about, or are other vested interests at work? Listen to an interesting Radio Sussex discussion at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p022y7jz about a proposal from the Local Government Association.
Here is the Local Government Association press release:
"Council tax discounts should be given to the thousands of 'community heroes' who improve life in their areas by giving up their time to do things like help run local libraries, museums and leisure centres, local authority leaders say. Those who tirelessly commit to running youth clubs or give their time to regularly help the elderly could be among those who would benefit. The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents councils in England and Wales, is calling on all national political parties to include a pledge in their 2015 General Election manifestos to fund the setting up of a new volunteering scheme to support voluntary work across the country. It comes alongside local government's long-standing call for Government to fully fund council tax support to protect discounts for those on low incomes. The scheme would provide money for local authorities to introduce a "community contribution discount", recognising the important contribution made by volunteers. Discounts would be set locally to take into account the needs of a particular area. Estimates by the LGA suggest that if Government was to establish a £50 million start-up fund, 500,000 volunteers could be offered a discount of 10 per cent on their council tax bill next year, in return for helping the public purse save many millions more. The subsidy would reward the thousands of people who currently volunteer, while also encouraging a new generation to step forward. It would be targeted at those who demonstrate a sustained commitment to improving life in their local areas in a way which saves other council taxpayers' money. For example, elderly members of society can have their quality of life significantly improved by volunteers providing regular company. This can help people live happily and independently in their own home long into their elder years, giving them a better alternative to costly residential care. Councils would work with charities and established community groups to identify people who should qualify. LGA Chair Cllr David Sparks said: "We cannot undervalue the contribution made by those who give up their spare time to help a local charity, support the library or provide a meal and a friendly face to an elderly neighbour. "The efforts of these community heroes do not just improve the lives of those they directly support. In these times of austerity, they have taken the strain off stretched services and lightened the load on local taxpayers. "We need to do more to recognise and encourage people who give up their spare time for the good of their community. In some parts of the country, those who volunteer already receive a small discount. But with the huge cuts to local government budgets, it is an offer than many councils can't afford to make. "A community contribution discount would not only recognise the fantastic work volunteers do, but could help save the public purse many millions more than it costs. It can help raise the profile of volunteering and encourage a new generation of volunteers to step up. Services run by councils help bind our communities together but growing populations and falling budgets mean that in the 21st century our role will be as much about helping people to help themselves. "Volunteers play a key role in working alongside council staff to improve services, and bring huge benefits to the economy. By making money available for supporting council efforts to reward local volunteers, government could reap the benefits for families, neighbourhoods and the national economy many times over." In the face of 40 per cent cuts to funding from central government since 2010, councils have seen a surge in numbers of residents wanting to work with their local authority and prepared to give up their time to help keep local services up and running. Local authorities already have the ability to introduce discretionary local discounts, but this has been massively restricted by Government reductions to council tax support funding. The LGA and local authorities have been calling for Government to fully fund council tax support so that the discount can be protected for those on low incomes. Some councils offer discounts for special constables and army reservists. The LGA's proposals, set out in a manifesto for the first 100 days of the next Government, would make it possible for councils across the country to roll out a national discount. Neil Cleeveley, Acting Chief Executive of the National Association of Voluntary and Community Action, said: "So many of the things we value most in our community are made possible by volunteers: Whether it is running sports clubs, friends of local parks groups or lunch clubs. It would be good to see the value of all that great work that volunteers do being recognised in this way." - See more at: http://www.local.gov.uk/web/guest/media-releases/-/journal_content/56/10180/6394956/NEWS#sthash.LgRcUA47.dpuf "
A creative future for volunteering in Adur
AVA is working to promote the kind of volunteering that we think matches the wishes of local people, communities and organisations. Our observation is that local volunteering springs from personal contacts, networks and experiences. What does this mean for the future?
- A more personal support service to organisations and invididual volunteers, with an emphasis on quality and responsiveness. This is likely to involve working more intensively with organisations who welcome the benefits of co-operating, and giving less time to unfocussed or impersonal approaches.
- A more energetic dialogue between AVA and organisations using our volunteer cente or working with volunteers, including twice-yearly meetings and other communications.
- An initiative involving those organisations who wish to work more closely with AVA to promote volunteering jointly, through shared publicity and networks, learning events and improved referrals of volunteers amongst organisations
- AVA will ensure that volunteers and organisations are helped to make full use of the new (launching September 2014) IVO/Do-It website
- We will contine to involve volunteers in delivery of AVA services, providing learning opportunities to ensure that they are aware of local resources, services and networks and are effective in supporting AVA’s activities.
We look forward to discussing this with you and your organisation, but meanwhile please feel free to contact Adrian Barritt, Keri Hamblin, Karen Lewis or Sarah Leeding at AVA.
Forthcoming AVA events
Official opening of the Old School House and launch of Volunteer Adur initiative Sept 2014. Guaranteed invitations to those organisations who support our initiative!
Annual General Meeting 12.30 31 October 2014; illustrated talk on the past and future of Shoreham Fort.
Adur Community Network Tuesday 9th September meeting speaker to be confirmed
Adur Community Network November meeting talk by Margaret Guest," Don't Cut Us Out" date to be confirmed
Adur Community Network January meeting speaker Martin Ladbrook on Charity Insurance. Date to be confirmed