Community Car Schemes

Community transport schemes, where volunteer drivers use their own cars, can be particularly effective in rural areas where transport options are especially limited and your community group does not want to take on all the liabilities of owning or leasing a vehicle themselves.

If your community group is considering volunteer drivers using their own cars - you will still have a legal responsibility to ensure that any vehicle used:-

  • is taxed
  • has a valid MOT
  • is well maintained and roadworthy 
  • is suitable for the needs of the intended passenger(s)

You are also responsible for ensuring that:-

  • the driver has a valid Driver’s License 
  • the driver have suitable insurance cover (insurance should be for social/domestic use rather than business, but the driver should notify their insurance company that they will be a volunteer driver for a community car scheme)
  • is medically fit to drive
  • has joined the Protection of Vulnerable Groups Scheme if their duties are classed as ‘regulated work’ and their passengers are either children under the age of 18 years or ‘protected’ adults (individuals over 16 years who are in receipt of Care/Health/ Community Care or Welfare services)

You should also ensure that your community group has insurance cover.

Paying your Volunteers expenses

Your community group may want to reimburse your volunteer drivers for mileage and related ‘out of pocket’ expenses such as car parking charges. To comply with legislation, the driver must not make a profit on the expenses claimed for each journey.

The law does not state a rate per mile but Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC - formerly the Inland Revenue) publishes Approved Mileage Allowance Payment (AMAP) rates per mile, above which it considers that a profit is being made.

It is important that your community group does not pay over these rates, since this could be  seen as the driver making a profit. This could jeopardise the driver’s own car insurance as well as putting them in breach of licensing exemptions. You should also seek to discourage passengers from tipping the driver (in cash or in kind).

Best practice would be for you to have mileage expense claim forms for your drivers. 

Charging Fares  

Your community group may want to charge fares. This is permissible as long as you are not making a profit so fares should not be extortionate. Agree to base fares on the driver’s mileage plus a little for administration – the fare will be for the trip and passengers will then be able to split the costs between them. Have different rates according to miles or typical journeys but keep it simple and make sure that all passengers are aware of the fares before they make their journey.

Consider too how these fares will be paid. Do you want your volunteer drivers to collect them or will passengers pre-book and pay at the time of booking?

Drawing up Best Practice Guidelines 

When putting together your guidelines for the Car Scheme, your community group may want to consider:-

  • setting out what is expected of your volunteer drivers
  • agreeing a minimum number of years driving experience and a maximum age limit for your volunteers
  • having a no-smoking policy
  • passenger donations - best practice would be for any donations to be given to the driver in a sealed envelope, clearly marked. 

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Last Updated 05/09/2012 11:31

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