The Centre for Social Justice is to propose a scheme that encourages firms to subsidise voluntary work carried out by their employees. The independent think tank, established by the Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith MP in 2004, claims that the scheme could boost private charitable donations by £1 billion a year.
The "C-Volunteering" plan has been drawn up by the CSJ in partnership with ‘C’, a new social enterprise group led by three senior business professionals. The proposal introduces an incentive for firms to run C-Volunteering schemes – a tax relief similar to the one which exists for research and development.
CSJ Executive Director Gavin Poole said: "We need imaginative new schemes to get British companies playing a bigger role in tackling deep-seated problems, such as educational failure and welfare dependency, that are holding back the country economically and socially."
The programme would involve companies encouraging their employees to give up some of their working time to a charity of their choice. The firm would then boost the value of their contribution by agreeing an hourly rate for the voluntary work.
The CSJ gives the example of an employee volunteering 19 hours a month: "If the matching funding was set at the minimum wage of £6.08 an hour, the charity's funds would be boosted by 19 x £6.08 a month or £115.52. A special C-Account would be set up to receive the company's donations and the money would be paid over to the chosen charity. The whole process would be managed simply and efficiently on line."
Firms would then be able to recoup some of the costs by setting their gifts against corporation tax.