Sheffield’s ‘community heroes’ to get tax cuts?

Local Government Association chairman David Sparks
Local Government Association chairman David Sparks

Library volunteers, unpaid carers and youth club organisers across Sheffield are some of the ‘community heroes’ who could get council tax discounts.

The Local Government Association, which represents councils in England and Wales, is calling on government to allow authorities such as Sheffield Council to introduce a ‘community contribution discount’.

It would mean those volunteering in the community could receive a 10 per cent council tax discount - equal to £104 off an average bill.

LGA chairman David Sparks said: “A community contribution discount would not only recognise the fantastic work volunteers do, but could save the public purse millions more than it costs. It can help raise the profile of volunteering and encourage a new generation to step up.”

Louisa Harrison-Walker, a trustee of Totley Library, said: “There certainly should be recognition for the role volunteers play in propping up community and statutory services for free.”

But she added: “If they are trying to incentivise people, that would be the wrong reason to do it for.”

Jenny Owen, chair of Broomhill Library, said: “I’m worried about fairness. It’s potentially very divisive.

“Some people are unable to volunteer because of ill health. Why don’t they get the benefit of the discount when able-bodied people can?”

Paul Harvey, Volunteer Centre Sheffield chairman, said: “I am concerned giving a financial incentive changes the ethos of volunteering. There are also practical and equality issues. To verify claims were genuine, an infrastructure of assessment would need to be set up which would take time and resources.”

Coun Ben Curran, Sheffield cabinet member for finance, said: “We hugely value the role volunteers play in Sheffield and if government were to provide funding for a scheme of this nature we would of course be happy to cooperate. We will await the Government’s response with interest.”