Campaigners have said without a rethink of the current system many vital community operations could grind to a halt.
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 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 a quarter. This was before the fuel cost increased as a result of the invasion of Ukraine.
The Community Transport Association (CTA) 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.
David Kelly, CTA’s director for Scotland, said: “Community Transport schemes deliver accessible, inclusive and sustainable transport services in rural, urban and island communities across Scotland.
"Every day our members help older and disabled people to access vital public services, like GP surgeries, hospital appointments and vaccination centres, in an affordable and accessible way. But many of them rely on volunteer drivers who are being hit hard by inflation and rising prices at the pumps.”
“That’s why CTA, our members and our partners are joining together to call for an immediate review of HMRC’s approved reimbursement rate for drivers. An inflationary uplift is necessary to better reflects current fuel prices and ensure volunteering is not disincentivised anywhere in the UK.”
“We need the UK Government to take action to stop the cost of living crisis becoming a volunteering crisis.”
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.
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.
The association said it understands 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.
The association called for a separation of the AMAP for volunteers together with index-linked increases as a fair and workable solution which would give organisations the option to enhance their reimbursement without creating an additional administrative burden.