UK’s home care hit by rise in fuel costs

fuel

A UK-wide survey of 627 home care providers reveals four fifths (82%) believe their staff are most concerned about the recent sharp hike in fuel costs and energy bills, while half say care workers have asked for an increase in the mileage rate.

Overall, according to the Homecare Association research, 95% of providers claim their staff have expressed concern about current or potential future increases in costs.

More than a fifth (21%) say that care workers had either given notice, intended to look for work elsewhere or had already done so because they cannot afford to put fuel in their cars.

Homecare Association states that a North-South divide in England was also apparent, with 83% of providers in the North East paying mileage rates of 30p per mile or less, with only 39% in the South West.

The association has evidence from other work that many home care workers receive only 10p per mile. Only 2% of providers that responded to this survey were paying above 45p per mile. In contrast, some NHS trusts are now paying community staff 54p per mile, with no reduction at higher mileage levels.

Homecare Association chief executive, Dr Jane Townson, says: “Employers in home care are acutely aware of the value of their care staff and the pressures they are under and want to ensure they receive fair remuneration, including covering variable costs such as mileage. Operating with increasingly tight margins, though, providers in the state-funded part of the sector have little room for manoeuvre.

“Furthermore, 90% of home care workers use their own cars or public transport for work. Many are unable to afford newer fuel-efficient vehicles, which means they must pay emissions or clean air charges in cities where they apply. Public transport routes and timetables do not always line up with home care delivery needs, particularly in the suburbs. In rural areas, public transport is simply not a viable option for home care delivery. Collectively, home care workers across the UK are estimated to travel more than 4 million miles per day. Given a high proportion of these visits are by car, fuel costs are significant, particularly in rural areas.

“The government has allocated insufficient funding to home care to ensure quality and sustainability of services, preferring to support the NHS instead. Indeed, home care receives less than 4% of the amount spent on the NHS. This is short-sighted, especially as the NHS is citing collapse of home care services in some areas as a key cause of delayed discharges from hospital, making elective recovery plans even harder to deliver.”

The Homecare Association urges the government to provide temporary grant funding as a fuel allowance to cover increased costs of fuel; funding in the short-term to cover emission/clear air charges in cities where they apply and support lease or purchase of electric fleet vehicles for home care services to enable a reduction in emissions in home care in the longer-term; and provide adequate baseline funding to ensure that fee rates cover costs and care workers receive fair remuneration, including full recompense for work-related expenses such as mileage.

Date published: April 21, 2022

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