Approved Mileage Allowance Payment Rate Debate

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Department: HM Treasury

Approved Mileage Allowance Payment Rate

Janet Daby Excerpts
Monday 3rd July 2023

(9 months, 3 weeks ago)

Westminster Hall
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Elliot Colburn Portrait Elliot Colburn (Carshalton and Wallington) (Con)
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I beg to move,

That this House has considered e-petition 600966, relating to the Approved Mileage Allowance Payment rate.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Sharma. The prayer of the petition reads:

“The HMRC mileage rate for reimbursing the use of private cars (e.g. for employees but also volunteers) has been fixed at 45p/mile (up to 10,000 miles) since 2011. The lack of any increase since then is a serious disincentive to volunteer drivers particularly as fuel has gone up again recently.

Since 2011, inflation has gone up by over 25%; fuel has increased by over 20% over the last 5 years. Volunteer car drivers who did so much during Covid, and still do, to get people to healthcare settings, e.g. hospitals, vaccination centres, and to deliver shopping and prescriptions, are not being compensated fairly for the use of their cars. Consequently charities are struggling to recruit new volunteer drivers. These drivers help free up hospital beds and keep people independent and in their own homes.”

Janet Daby Portrait Janet Daby (Lewisham East) (Lab)
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I thank the hon. Gentleman for opening his speech so powerfully. Does he agree that the approved mileage allowance payment rate must increase because it has not increased since 2011, while motoring costs, including the cost of fuel and vehicle maintenance costs, have risen?

Elliot Colburn Portrait Elliot Colburn
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The hon. Lady has basically nicked the crux of my speech, but I thank her for making my point so succinctly.

The petition received over 41,500 signatures, including 25 from Carshalton and Wallington. On behalf of all parliamentarians, I should declare that MPs’ mileage rates, claimed through the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, are also calculated at 45p per mile, in line with the approach taken by His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. However, I hasten to add that we are not debating MPs’ rates today.

I thank all those who signed the petition and have taken an interest in the debate, including the many volunteer and community groups that have been in touch. I also thank the petition creator, Rev. Nick Ralph, as well as representatives of the Good Neighbours Network, the Community Transport Association, Unison and the Association of Taxation Technicians, for meeting me to discuss the subject of the debate. As always, a massive thanks must go to the Petitions Committee team, who have worked incredibly hard to organise the meetings I just mentioned and to provide briefings in advance of the debate.

When I agreed to lead the debate, I did so with a focus on the charitable activity mentioned in the petition’s prayer, remembering the enormous volunteering effort that I witnessed and was part of during the pandemic, both locally and nationally. Our country has a proud history of volunteering. One route can even be traced back to the medieval age, when there was a strong link between religion and the aiding of the sick, needy and poor. Indeed, according to sources, over 500 voluntary hospitals were established in England in the 12th and 13th centuries alone. More recently, in this century, we London MPs think of the enormous army of volunteers who helped to spread joy and cheer throughout the Olympic park during the 2012 London Olympics and, as I have already noted, the hundreds of thousands of people who volunteered their time to help those in need during the covid pandemic. From taking part in befriending telephone calls to collecting and dropping off shopping or prescriptions, the effort was enormous. It made me incredibly proud of our country and, indeed, my own community.

Volunteering is an incredibly noble calling, endorsed by its long history of royal patronage. This year, the Royal Voluntary Service launched the Coronation Champion awards to recognise volunteers who have gone above and beyond for their charities, and volunteering was made an intrinsic part of Their Majesties’ coronation itself. Billed as a lasting legacy of that momentous occasion, the Big Help Out took place on the bank holiday Monday of the celebration, with hundreds of thousands of people taking part across the country.

The numbers speak for themselves. According to a survey in 2019-20, 64% of people had volunteered at least once in the past year, and just shy of 40% had volunteered in the past month. The following year, 62% of respondents stated that they had volunteered at least once in the past year, and the number reporting having volunteered in the past month rose to 41%.

That potted history of the relationship between our country, its people and volunteering featured so heavily in my introduction because it helps to set the scene for the petition and makes clear its importance. Many in our communities depend on volunteers, but it is important that those volunteers, whatever they may be doing, feel valued and appreciated. That is important not just for retaining volunteers but for recruiting new ones. Yet from the conversations that I have had with affected stakeholders, the current HMRC AMAP rate is proving to be a real sticking point for many charities in retaining their volunteers, particularly longer-serving ones.

--- Later in debate ---
Elliot Colburn Portrait Elliot Colburn
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My hon. Friend is absolutely right. I know that the rate affects businesses and employees too, but the core principle is that volunteers, in particular, should not be penalised for their noble service and for giving up their free time to help others. It is clear that the rate is affecting the recruitment of volunteers to use their private vehicles at a time when those volunteers are so needed.

Janet Daby Portrait Janet Daby
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I thank the hon. Gentleman for being so gracious in giving way again. Volunteers must be appreciated, and ensuring that these allowances increase is one way to appreciate them, but does he agree that public sector workers—I was one in the past, and they did so much during the covid period and continue to do so—should also be given the allowances they are due, too?

Elliot Colburn Portrait Elliot Colburn
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The hon. Lady is absolutely right, too; public sector workers, particularly those working in our national health service, are also impacted by the reduced rate. That only enhances the petitioners’ call for the rate to be increased and reviewed more regularly.

Our volunteers in particular, but also our public sector workers, have shown themselves to be true engines of growth and betterment. It is surely time that they feel properly supported in their endeavours, whether entrepreneurial or charitable. If we are to ensure a brighter future for our country, those who drive it must be paid a rate that reflects today’s world and not the world of more than a decade ago. I look forward to hearing from all hon. Members. I hope that the Government will listen to our calls and look to introduce an increased rate, as well as a system of more regular review so that we do not have to come back to the issue every 10 years or so and just hope that the Government fancy doing it one day.