Hundreds of thousands of community volunteers should be rewarded with a discount worth more than £100 on their council tax bills, local authorities say.
The Local Government Association will call on the three main political parties to commit to helping “community heroes” who volunteer at local libraries, museums and leisure centres.
Others who could benefit include people who run youth clubs or those who “give their time to regularly help the elderly”, the LGA said.
The organisation is hoping the proposal will be included in the 2015 general election manifestos of the three main parties.
“We need to do more to recognise and encourage people who give up their spare time for the good of their community,” said David Sparks, the new chairman of the LGA.
“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.”
Local authorities already have the ability to introduce discretionary local discounts, typically fore special constables and Army reservists, but this has been restricted by government reductions to council tax support funding.
The LGA is calling on the parties to commit £50million to a “community contribution discount” which would cut 10% off council tax bills for 500,000 home owners.
Given that the average council tax bill is £1,040 per year this would see them receive an average of £104 off their council bills, if applied this year. It would be targeted at those who demonstrate a sustained commitment to improving life in their area in a way which saves other council tax payers money.
“Councils are right to think of new ways to get people talking about helping others and encourage people to give their time to good causes,” said John Low, chief executive of the Charities Aid Foundation.
From the Daily Telegraph