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04 Jul 2022

Carers out of pocket as fuel costs soar

'Care workers mileage allowance review needed' - MLA

Carers out of pocket as fuel costs soar

Carers out of pocket as fuel costs soar

An urgent review of the mileage allowance for domiciliary care workers has been called for.

Mark Durkan MLA (SDLP) said carers should not be left out of pocket as fuel costs soar.

Mr Durkan said: "There needs to be an urgent review of the mileage allowance for domiciliary care workers and other Health and Social Care staff, in light of soaring fuel costs with diesel prices hitting over £2 per litre at some filling stations in Northern Ireland."

The NHS employee reimbursement is currently capped at 56p per mile up to 3,500 miles per year and 20p a mile thereafter.

In response to an Assembly Question tabled by Mark Durkan, Health Minister Robin Swann stated options are under consideration for Northern Ireland.  

Mr Durkan added: "The response from the Health Minister regarding an increase in the basic mileage rate allowances for nursing, community carers and other Health and Social Care staff is disappointing to say the least.  

“While I welcome that options are being considered for Northern Ireland, I don't accept the excuse that temporary increases which have been agreed in Scotland and Wales, could not be applied here given the election period.

"This was a relatively small window of time; concerns had been raised by myself and staff months ago. In addition to that the mileage rate has not been reviewed since 2014- and while the allowance may have been considered fair eight years ago, it is hardly reasonable in the current financial climate at a time when inflation rates have reached a 40-year high. 

“Since those initial concerns were raised, we have witnessed punitive price hike after price hike at the pumps which is going to have a devastating impact on staff. People cannot be expected to hold out to these extortionate costs, especially in a post-pandemic economy.

"On a weekly basis I’m hearing from domiciliary care workers within my constituency whose mileage rates allowance is no longer cutting it, leaving them out of pocket and forcing them with no other option than to seek alternative employment," said Mark Durkan, who described domiciliary carers are the backbone of the Social Care system.

He added: "We cannot afford to lose them and the invaluable role they play in our communities and they cannot afford to continue subsidising the health service through the cost of living emergency. An additional payment needs to be delivered and soon.” 

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