Frequently Asked Questions
Below is a list of FAQs about car schemes and how they operate.
A VCS, or Voluntary Car Scheme, is an organised form of car sharing, which uses a pool of volunteer drivers to take people on prearranged journeys. There is usually a coordinator who manages bookings, and drivers use their own cars and claim back out of pocket expenses such as mileage and parking costs.
Many schemes provide a service where volunteers stay with their passengers throughout the trip for example to wait at the hospital or doctor’s surgery; offering support and assistance beyond the scope of a commercial transport operator. Car schemes can assist anyone in the local community who needs help with transport. Most often this is elderly or disabled people, but some schemes decide to extend this to a wider range of beneficiaries if there are enough drivers. Volunteer Car Schemes can promote social inclusion in communities and improve the quality of life of its clients.
Volunteers are entitled to reimbursement of their expenses. This will cover out of pocket expenses such as mileage (within HMRC limits, which are currently 45p per mile for up to 10,000 miles and 25p per mile thereafter) and parking expenses incurred. In addition a further 5p per mile per passenger can be claimed.
Volunteers should be advised not to accept payments (such as tips) over and above the level of actual expenses and HMRC limits. I.e. volunteers should not make a profit from the service being provided.
The VCS should take out public liability insurance so that it is covered in case a claim is not covered by the driver’s car insurance. In addition the scheme should consider the need for a Contingent Liability Policy – this covers the scheme in the event that it is considered responsible for an accident incurred by a volunteer driver.
No. Voluntary car schemes are exempt from licensing providing your drivers do not make a profit on expenses they need only comply with normal regulations applicable to private motorists. If you expand, and begin offering a scheduled service with a larger vehicle, such as a community bus scheme, you would then need to consider licensing requirements and legal issues.
You have a responsibility to carry out appropriate checks, including:
- Recording who is authorised to drive on your behalf;
- Checking they have the relevant driving license and are fit to drive;
- Conducting appropriate Disclosure Scotland checks (Disclosure Scotland is happy to provide advice);
- Making sure the vehicles used (whether yours or the driver’s) are roadworthy and correctly licensed/MOT’d; and
- Ensuring the drivers and cars are insured correctly.
It is best practise to make a record of all these checks and take copies of the relevant documents. A review is recommended on at least an annual basis to ensure volunteers and their vehicles remain fit for providing transportation to individuals as part of your scheme.
Helping Go would be happy to help you if you are considering setting up a VCS in Scotland. Please call us on 0131 677 5223 or email us at email@example.com
If you have a question that is not answered, please get in touch with us.
Helping Go is a Social Enterprise promoting micro-volunteering.
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