We call on Chancellor to tackle fuel cost crisis

6 July 2022

Surging inflation puts volunteer-run transport services at risk

AMAP IMAGEVolunteer Scotland is part of a coalition of eleven charities that has written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to call for action to tackle the spiraling fuel costs crisis which is damaging the voluntary sector across the UK.

The campaign is led by the Community Transport Association (CTA) – which represents over 1,200 local charities and community groups across the UK who provide accessible, inclusive transport services – and highlights the impact of record petrol and diesel prices on organisations and volunteers.

The letter asks Nadhim Zahawi MP 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 – to reflect inflation in his Autumn Budget this October.

The AMAP rate of 45p per mile was last reviewed in 2012. Before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the cost of motoring had already increased by 25% since then, according to research by the RAC.

CTA has now joined forces with eleven charities from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – Volunteer Scotland, Communities 1st, Volunteer Now, the National Council of Voluntary Organisations, the Scottish Council of Voluntary Organisations, the Scottish Volunteering Forum, the Royal Voluntary Service, Volunteering Matters, Wales Council for Voluntary Action and the National Association for Voluntary and Community Action – to call for an immediate review of the AMAP rate.

The coalition’s letter states that the current AMAP rate ‘no longer fully covers volunteer expenses’ and is disincentivising volunteering at a time when, as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and face a cost of living crisis, it is needed more than ever to – for example, to transport older and disabled people to GP, hospital and vaccination appointments. It asks the Chancellor to ‘safeguard the future of the charities and organisations who rely on volunteer drivers to deliver lifeline services’.

David Kelly, CTA’s Director for Scotland, said: “Inflation is hitting all parts of the voluntary sector hard, especially the Community Transport sector. Our members rely on small government grants, public donations and volunteer drivers. With fuel prices at record highs and the cost of living crisis worsening, it’s increasingly difficult for local charities or community groups to make ends meet.

“Some amazing projects and essential services are under threat. If some Community Transport schemes can’t continue, it’ll mean fewer older and disabled people are able to get out and about for shopping, hospital appointments or visits to family and friends. It’ll mean fewer younger people and deprived households without access to a car able to get to school, college, university or work. It’ll mean more transport poverty across the UK.

Alan Stevenson, CEO of Volunteer Scotland, adds that: “Volunteer Scotland exists to ensure that more people can volunteer; enjoyably, safely and regularly. The cost of living crisis is adding significant financial pressure to individuals across Scotland, and creating unwelcome barriers for people who wish to volunteer.

“12% of formal Scottish volunteers gave help to transport people or things in 2018. This is the equivalent of 140,763 Scottish adults giving 12.5 million hours of help with an economic value of £187.8 million. Increasing the AMAP rate will help ensure that more volunteers are able to continue using their own car to provide vital help in their local communities.”

What can you do?

You can write to your local MP to help us to pressure the UK Government to act. To find yours, follow this link: Find your MP – MPs and Lords – UK Parliament. To make the process as easy as possible CTA  have included a template letter

To strengthen the conversation with key decision makers, CTA are seeking to gather as much information from across the UK on the impacts of the current AMAP rate on the recruitment and retention of volunteers. They ask that you complete their survey, which should only take 5-6 minutes to do.

Finally, contact Volunteer Scotland at hello@volunteerscotland.org.uk for guidance if you are experiencing any of the challenges raised by the campaign with your volunteers.