A new plan proposes that community volunteers who help in their local library or do charitable work should get discounts on their council tax bills.
The Local Government Association has said that volunteers have saved the public purse millions of pound through their efforts and deserved some financial recognition, reports the BBC.
The LGA are urging the next government to give almost 500,000 people in England and Wales a 10% annual rebate. Community groups will help councils to identify who should qualify.
They are calling on the main parties at Westminster to each make a commitment in their 2015 general election manifestos to introduce a new scheme which will give councils money to fund a “community contribution discount”.
Although councils already have powers to introduce discounts on council tax bills the LGA insists that major cuts to local authority budgets in recent years make it more difficult to offer reductions.
Local authorities are asking whoever forms the next government to set up a £50m central fund to get the idea of a tax discount off the ground. Under its plans, councils would have the power decide what level of reduction to offer locally.
“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,” said David Sparks, who recently took over as chairman of the organisation.
“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. 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.”
“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,” said Neil Cleevely, acting chief executive of the National Association for Voluntary and Community Action.
“It would be good to see the value of all that great work that volunteers do being recognised in this way.”
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