The COVID crisis has seen unprecedented numbers of people volunteering for the first time through mutual aid societies. This has been grass roots, community led and far more efficient than official efforts to organise something similar. Huge numbers of people have realised the emotional benefits of volunteering, but also how it adds to community cohesion, and connects us with people from different backgrounds and political persuasions.
So let’s incentivise people to do more of this, as we do with other things:
– If you undertake a certain amount of straightforward community volunteering (eg litterpicking, river cleaning, flower/tree planting, filling in potholes etc), you receive a credit against your council tax bill. Central government to subsidise the lost revenue to the council, but the reduction in refuse collection, drain cleaning etc will also reduce the council’s outlay.
– Cap the level of discount that you get, but make it a tangible amount. People see it marked on their bill as eg ‘You made ¬£40 worth of community contribution this year’, with a local advertising campaign to tell people that ‘Residents of X Town earned ¬£480,000 this year by volunteering their time’. Make it pay to do good and invest people in their neighbourhoods.