DOMICILIARY care workers who have to travel from house to house are to be paid an extra 5p per mile in petrol expenses in response to the cost-of-living crisis.
The move is one of a number of measures being taken by Monmouthshire council, which will earmark £219,824 for steps to help its staff deal with rising costs.
The council currently pays the HMRC rate of 45p per mile for the first 10,000 business miles, and 25p thereafter, but will now boost the intial rate to 50 p per mile.
Its ruling cabinet was told that 90 per cent of mileage claims within the council are from health and care staff, who are among its lowest paid. The increase will apply across the board to all council staff.
The council will also speed up its expenses payments so staff can be reimbursed on a weekly basis, rather than having to wait a month as at present. Technical reasons however mean the payroll system cannot be updated until at least October.
Cllr Rachel Garrick, who is responsible for resources on the Labour-run council, told its September 7 cabinet meeting, which agreed to make the cash available, there is a risk without additional support the council could lose vital care workers.
She said: “Exit interviews have reported that people need to work closer to home and (need) better pay.”
The move will bring the council into line with other neighbouring authorities, who Cllr Garrick said Monmouthshire competes with to attract potential employees, while the Welsh NHS bumped its mileage rate up to 50p in April.
As well as boosting the rate for its own employees the council will, for six months, along with other Gwent local authorities, increase its payments to care providers by £1 per hour.
The expectation is that providers will use the increase to help staff with additional costs. Councils have agreed to the increase to avoid “distorting” the employment market for care workers.
Cllr Tudor Thomas, who is responsible for social care, said: “I commend the decision. Domiciliary care workers don’t have the luxury of working from home, they can’t care for the elderly from home on a computer and they have to purchase a car and their cars wear out more quickly.”
The council also runs a programme offering advice on finances for staff, which leader Mary Ann Brocklesby said had been an initiative of the previous Conservative administration, which will continue.
She said: “We are looking at this in the round and it’s like when an aeroplane crashes, down come the oxygen masks and you put them on the staff first to make sure you support them and keep services going.”