Foysol Choudhury MSP raises alarm bells over PVG proposals

Tuesday May 7th 2024

LifeCare Edinburgh

Foysol Choudhury MSP on a visit to LifeCare Edinburgh.

Written by Midlothian View Reporter, Luke Jackson

Foysol Choudhury MSP, Co-Convener of the Scottish Parliament’s Cross-Party Group (CPG) on Volunteering, has raised alarm bells over Scottish Government proposals to replace the Protection of Vulnerable Groups (PVG) membership fee waiver, for volunteers in Qualifying Voluntary Organisations (QVOs), with a fee discount.

MSP Choudhury, who visited LifeCare Edinburgh last month, raised alarm bells over this proposal, which he said would hugely impact organisations such as LifeCare Edinburgh who carry out vital work and rely on volunteers to be able to deliver their services.

Following his visit to LifeCare Edinburgh, Mr Choudhury lodged a motion at the Scottish Parliament on Recognising LifeCare Edinburgh’s Contributions to Community Wellbeing. For these essential contributions to continue, however, Mr Choudhury says the Scottish Government must listen to the pleas of integral third sector organisations. Mr Choudhury said:

“LifeCare Edinburgh has worked tirelessly for 80 years providing uplifting, positive and practical support for older people, such as through day clubs, support with household tasks and home care, which allow older service users to thrive in their own homes and community.

“LifeCare Edinburgh and many other organisations foster community wellbeing, both by providing volunteering opportunities and by running essential services using volunteers.

“They therefore rely on the goodwill of volunteers being easily accepted by the system, such as via the PVG fee waiver system which allows volunteers to be easily and freely accredited for volunteering opportunities with vulnerable groups.

“The proposal to remove this fee waiver and replace it with a fee discount will, therefore, mean more barriers to volunteering, especially for those from economically deprived backgrounds, which will have a knock-on effect in terms of decreased wellbeing for volunteers and decreased services available to be run for the community.”

Sarah van Putten, LifeCare Edinburgh CEO, said:

“LifeCare strongly opposes the Scottish Government’s proposals to remove the current fee waiver for volunteers and replace this with a fee discount. The price of a PVG application, even at the subsidised rate, is not inconsiderable, particularly for those from economically deprived backgrounds.

The proposed changes would create a further barrier at a time where the cost-of-living crisis is already limiting access to volunteering. Adopting the proposed changes would worsen this problem and further exclude marginalised and disadvantaged communities throughout Scotland. The only way volunteer-involving organisations could conceivably help to mitigate this barrier would be to reimburse the cost of the PVG application back to volunteers. However, the cost of even subsidised membership applications is a substantial burden for charities to bear – particularly for organisations like LifeCare who have been significantly impacted by funding cuts, increasing demand rising costs.

These changes will inevitably force a decline in the number of volunteering opportunities organisations are able to support in the future. This will ultimately have an adverse impact on all those who benefit from volunteer-supported services across Scotland, and of course the volunteers themselves whose health and wellbeing benefits through the hugely rewarding experience volunteering can bring.”

Mr Choudhury, following his visit to LifeCare Edinburgh and the submission of his motion recognising their work, is joining LifeCare Edinburgh in highlighting concern over these PVG proposals. Mr Choudhury says he will, as Co-Convener of the Cross-Party Group (CPG) on Volunteering, continue to pursue this matter with the responsible Minister.

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