Carers can’t afford fuel to drive to their clients

Friday June 17th 2022

Midlothian Council Fairfield House Main

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

Carers are being forced to give up their cars and walk to the homes of patients because of the high cost of fuel, health bosses have been told.

Midlothian’s head of primary care and older people’s services has said it has become too expensive for some workers to use their cars for work.

And she said the situation means carers need more time between appointments so they can get to their clients.

Speaking to a meeting of the Midlothian Integration Joint Board, Grace Cowan, from the local authority’s health and social care partnership, said the service had taken on some pool cars to try and ease the pressure on carers.

But the board was told carers also faced more hardship because while their NHS colleagues had been given a temporary increase in their mileage allowance, those employed by the council have not.

Ms Cowan said: “We have staff moving from using a car to get between service users and having to become walkers because of the cost of fuel for them.

“We have brought in some additional pool cars to try and alleviate pressures on staff but continue to see a pressure form people moving from driving to walking, people need longer between visits and we continue to monitor the situation.”

Board member councillor Derek Milligan asked if the service had looked at using some of the council’s fleet of electric vehicles adding that they lay unused “after 4.30pm” during the week.

Ms Cowan said talks with the council over ways to support care workers were being held to find additional help.

The board was told by its chief officer Morag Barrow that one issue which had been raised was a decision by the NHS to temporarily increase its mileage allowance while workers employed by the council had not been given the same increase.

NHS Scotland introduced a temporary four month rise in fuel allowances in April with a 5p increase from 56p a mile to 61p for the first 3,500 miles a year and 20p to 25p for all additional miles.

Councillor Kelly Parry, council leader, told the meeting that proposals to raise the mileage allowance for council care staff would be going to elected members on June 28 for a decision.

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