Is calling for the Mileage Allowance increase sufficient

Keith Johnson Senior Development Worker at Hunts Forum

The latest call from charities asking for government action on the rising prices that are affecting our sector specifically is to seek an increase in the approved mileage allowance payment (AMAP). This has made me think about how our sector is inclined to approach government and how we, as a society, are rather too compliant to authority.

Many vital services rely on volunteers getting to a place of volunteering. Covering their milage expenses is central to many being able to continue with their volunteering. The situation, as the press release makes clear is heightened when those volunteers are using their own vehicles to transport service users.

It is essential that we see a rise in AMAP.  Join us in signing the petition here for a rise to 60p. Personally, I would have liked it to state ‘at least 60p’.

However, for me, an interesting aspect is how we, as a society, accept that certain parts of the economy can increase prices, but not all. We are seeing energy producers- gas, oil and electricity making extortionate profits from the prices they are choosing to demand. Shareholders, institutional and private, are raking it in. Where is the call for restraint from government towards extortionate profit and obscene shareholder dividend? Very quickly, we are told that those of us reliant on a wage for our income must not add to inflation by raising the cost of our labour. Why?

Families, older people, single people, everyone who doesn’t have wealth and investments providing an income is struggling in the face of these rises. Increasing numbers are turning to food banks, indeed, many hospitals are opening food banks for staff, often without daring to admit to themselves that this means hospital staff are paid poverty wages. Debt advice services are rises in demand. With many disabled people reliant on equipment that devours energy, disability charities are working hard to do their best to help people access all the financial support that they can. The list of the work of charities trying to do their best to help people has no end. But one thing we rarely do is stop and ask why are our services necessary? Why does it have to be this way? And then shout and scream for change.

I was please to read in Civil Society that Polly Neate, the CEO of Shelter, recently called for charities to challenge systemic failures that cause social injustice. All too often, our sector merely steps up and does its best to mitigate these failures, often failures of leadership, empathy, compassion and ideology as much as being systemic.  We help some, and miss many, but we do make a difference. The only problem is that we then do it all over again and again and again like Sisyphus pushing his big lump of rock up the hill.

Perhaps the charity sector should be more challenging and not simply place the begging bowl in front of government ministers and instead ask that, ‘Why?’. Perhaps then, we can begin to change society and not merely smooth the edges of societal dysfunctionality.

I’ll leave this with the words of Polly Neate from the Civil society article.

“I actually think it is as basic a question as that. If we are not here to change things, then we are complicit in systems that cause people’s lives to fall apart.”

We need more Charity CEOs, particularly from national charities with a high profile, to say the same thing.

Blog Notes 

This was a response to the article Charities Call on New Chancellor to Tackle Fuel Cost Crisis   

If you would like to sign the petition to call for an increase in volunteer expenses click HERE 

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