There have been fresh calls for mileage rates for home helpers to be increased in light of rising fuel costs, after it emerged the last time they were changed was eight years ago.
he NHS staff council reviews the mileage rate for home health worker staff twice a year, in July and November. However, the rates were last changed in 2014.
Workers in the statutory sector who use their vehicle to carry out their work, such as providing care in a patient’s home, receive mileage charges which are centrally set under the terms and conditions of the Agenda for Change – the current NHS grading and pay system.
This is based on ‘Going Fuel Costs’, according to the Department of Health (DoH), and the current rate is 56p per mile for annual mileage up to 3,500 miles and 20p per mile for annual mileage annual over 3,500 miles.
Unions and others have asked the staff council to review these rates in light of rising fuel costs. The DoH said Tuesday that a review of allowances was on the agenda for a March 16 staff council meeting.
“Discussions are still ongoing regarding any changes to mileage reimbursement at the NHS staff council. Further engagement is planned in partnership with unions at the national level,” the DoH said.
There is no regional flat rate or flat rate for mileage allowances paid to home helpers in the independent sector.
The news comes after the RAC said Monday marked the first day this month that average fuel prices failed to hit new records.
Alliance party health spokeswoman Paula Bradshaw said: ‘All health workers who need a vehicle to travel – including home care workers and district nurses – need an urgent increase in mileage rates, otherwise their financial situation will simply become unsustainable. This step should have actually been taken when it was already evident that fuel costs would rise so substantially.
DUP MLA Pam Cameron, Vice Chair of the Stormont Health Committee, added: “Travel is not an optional extra in their work, but a necessary part of helping some of the most vulnerable in our society.
“Even without the recent increase in fuel prices, there was justification for reviewing the mileage rate and it must fully cover both fuel and the wear and tear of the vehicles used. It is unthinkable that staff should be left out to do their job.
Meanwhile, DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has called on Chancellor Rishi Sunak to cut VAT and excise duty on diesel and petrol to help those battling the cost of living crisis. In a letterSir Jeffrey also urged the Chancellor to put on hold plans to scrap the red diesel rebate, reverse the planned 1.25 per cent rise in National Insurance contributions and provide additional targeted support for working families and to those who need it the most with heating costs.
“It is vital that you not only recognize the scale of the problem we face, but that you take decisive action to bring hope to millions of people across the UK,” he said. stated in the letter.