VITAL frontline carers fear they will not be able to afford the petrol they need to do their job unless their fuel allowance is increased.

Staff working as carers for the health and social care partnership in Inverclyde rely on their own vehicles to provide care across the area.

To compensate them for their travel, they can claim the statutory mileage rate of 45 pence per mile travelled to cover fuel costs, as well as vehicle maintenance.

But fuel prices have soared across the country in recent months - and the Tele also recently revealed how average prices to fuel up here are higher than other parts of Scotland.

Frances Poole, 53, who has worked for the HSPC for almost five years, said: “The 45p per mile allowance covers less and less of my fuel bill.

“I need to drive to and from people’s houses to provide care, so I have no option but to absorb these costs myself.”

The statutory mileage rate is reviewed and published by HMRC before the beginning of every tax year.

Despite the yearly reviews and changes in petrol pricing, the approved mileage rate of 45p per mile has stayed the same for 11 years.

The local carers say it must be updated.

Frances added: “Things need to change both when it comes to petrol prices in the area and the money we can claim to cover our expenses.

“As local carers, we don’t have a choice to fuel up anywhere else.

"We travel short distances across the area and many of us go on multiple jobs a day - we can’t just go to Paisley or Glasgow to fill up in between to save some money.

“We’re not moaning about the job.

"There’s not one of us here that doesn’t love our job, but right now we fill up our tank and fear that we might end up out of pocket by the end of the month.

“We just want to challenge the 45p rate.

"No carer should have to worry about their costs not being covered.”

Frances and her colleagues have raised the issue with local MSP Stuart McMillan, who has penned a letter to Morrisons and Tesco asking why their fuel prices in Inverclyde are higher than other places.

He has also written to Chancellor Rishi Sunak, urging the UK Government to raise the mileage rate for health and social care workers across the UK.

Frances said: “I attended Stuart’s surgery in Gourock as I wanted to ask him about rising fuel costs.

"I knew this was an issue he’d spoken about publicly and as a home care worker, I wanted to make him aware of the impact higher pump prices are having on my income.

“I’m grateful to Stuart for highlighting my case with the Chancellor and I hope the UK Government listens to his call for the mileage rate to be increased for workers across the health and social care sector.”

Mr McMillan said: “There are people whose jobs require the use of their own vehicle to go about their duties.

"Some of us can make the switch to public transport, but for people like Frances this is not an option.

“HMRC’s 45p per mile rate applies to lots of different occupations, which is why I’m calling on the Chancellor to introduce a targeted increase for health and social care workers.

“I accept this would only be a temporary measure, but I do believe it would ease the burden being felt by home care workers like Frances, and I hope the Chancellor will take my proposal seriously."