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United Future Policy on the Voluntary Sector

Tuesday, 14 June 2005

United Future Policy on the Voluntary Sector

The voluntary sector is the vital link between strong families and strong communities, and it’s high time that they were supported in this role, United Future MP Gordon Copeland said today, in releasing the party’s Voluntary Sector at the six-monthly forum of the Association of Non-Governmental Organisations of Aotearoa (ANGOA) in Wellington.

Families are both participants and beneficiaries of voluntary work, said Mr Copeland, citing US studies which show that parents are the most heavily involved in volunteer activity.

“We want to support those who give their time and money to these groups, by increasing the tax rebate on donations from individuals to charitable organizations from $630 per annum to $6,300 as a first step, with a comparable increase for companies”, said Mr Copeland.

United Future will also introduce a community volunteer tax rebate of up to $500 per annum (based on 100 hours work per year) for those who give up their time to work for recognised community agencies and charities, to help offset some of their costs (e.g. transport).

Mr Copeland also pointed out that community and voluntary sector organisations do a huge job in supporting and implementing government policy. A 2004 study by Pricewaterhouse Coopers estimated that the value of the work of ten voluntary agencies was $126 million, and that for every dollar provided to a voluntary agency, between $3 and $5 worth of services are delivered to the community.

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“I want to see charities flourish and Kiwis given every encouragement to be generous. That way we can begin to scale back the bureaucracy and see many of our social issues, especially family breakdown, dealt with in a compassionate and caring way by those who know what it’s really like at the coalface.”

United Future is committed to recognising the contribution of the ‘third sector’ by developing successful partnerships between the Government, the community, and voluntary agencies, such as contracting not-for-profit agencies to find sustained employment for the jobless, and putting first-time parents in touch with a range of agencies that can help them to build a stable family.

“We would like to explore further ways of encouraging greater participation in voluntary organisations, such as establishing a national register of skills on offer by retirees that can be made available to community agencies, or by allowing students to reduce their loan debt if they work as a volunteer”, Mr Copeland said.

United Future would also review the compliance costs imposed on voluntary agencies by legislation such as occupational health and safety regulations.

United Future will: Focus on developing supportive and mutually beneficial partnerships between the Government, the community, and voluntary agencies, including greater cooperation between agencies at a local and regional level.

Increase the tax rebate on donations from individuals to charitable organizations from $630 per annum to $6,300 per annum as a first step, with a comparable increase for companies. Ensure that government departments keep voluntary agencies up to date with policies that affect their work, and foster policy development networks with voluntary and cultural groups.

Introduce a community volunteer tax rebate of up to $500 per annum (based on 100 hours work per year) for those who give up their time to work for recognised community agencies and charities. Involve people over 55 to assist with early childhood, school, after school and school holiday activities, in return for a community volunteers' rebate on taxes. Allow students to reduce their loan debt if they work for at least 100 hours as a volunteer for a registered charity (up to a maximum of $500 per annum).

Pay premiums to not-for-profit agencies who find sustained employment for the unemployed, with higher rates available for placing clients facing greater barriers to employment. Establish Family Support Service Co-ordinators that help families to access government and non-profit agencies providing services such as budget advice, addiction treatment, parenting education, anger management courses, counselling, employment training, and maternity, child care, mental health and child health services.

Ensure that charities can access imputation credits on company dividends so that such income is exempt from income tax. Ensure that the work of the Charities Commission is directed towards fostering the vitality and success of the sector and encouraging philanthropy and generosity by New Zealanders.

Establish overseas aid at 0.5% of GDP, moving toward the accepted international millennium goal of 0.7% by promoting a multi-party accord. Ensure that tax rebates are available for donations to private charities involved in international aid and development.

Explore further ways of encouraging greater social participation in voluntary organisations, e.g. establish a national register of skills on offer by retirees that can be available to community agencies, and seek the active involvement of employers and unions in this process. Establish an annual Volunteer of the Year Award to recognise the work of volunteers at both a national and regional level.

Encourage young people to become involved in voluntary activities. Review the compliance costs imposed on voluntary agencies by legislation, such as occupational health and safety regulations.

ENDS

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