Following a notice of motion brought forward by Sinn Féin Councillor Michaela Boyle, elected members also agreed to call upon the Minister for Health to make the payment of a fuel cost allowance, in line with the public sector rates, a further prerequisite of any tender from a private company. Addressing the chamber, Councillor Boyle said: “We as a party have been lobbying the Minister to review the fuel allowance for workers employed directly by the Western Trust and given the current fuel allowance it is not adequate to cover costs of running their cars particularly in the rural areas with the distance cars have to cover.
“Domiciliary care workers in the private sector are at a greater disadvantage having no statutory protection in terms of either a minimum wage or either fuel cost allowance. After working all week many are being left with little or nothing to live on once they pay their fuel costs and many I have spoken to are on the verge of giving up.
“We have seen the impact of this on hospitals as well. We have patients who are fit to be discharged to home unable to be discharged due to the lack of resources and no care packages in place.”
Welcoming the motion, DUP Alderman Maurice Devenney added: “I have talked to many carers on the doorsteps and they have said they are leaving because they can’t afford to live on the pay and they are looking seriously at other jobs.
“I agree when we have patients in hospital and we are trying to get them home again, there are issues around care packages and getting them in place and I believe that is down to the fact we don’t have enough carers. If we do not look to enhance the salaries and the fuel allowance that situation is going to be exacerbated.”
All members agreed the situation needs to be addressed as soon as possible with SDLP Colr. Martin Reilly stating: “The system needs to do better for the people receiving the care but it also needs to do better for the workers who are providing the care.”
Local Democracy Reporter