Unison urges councils to restart mileage talks after NHS ups rates

Unison has urged councils to restart talks about increasing car mileage allowances for social care staff amid soaring fuel costs and and an improved deal for NHS staff.

The call from the UK’s largest public sector union comes after NHS Employers agreed a 10% increase in mileage allowances for health service staff with unions. NHS staff will be able to claim 44p per mile for the first 9,000 miles per year under the new allowance for cars over 1500cc.

That compares to the current 40p a mile allowance for local government workers.

Unison, whose council members in England, Wales and Northern Ireland have voted to strike over the offer of a 2.45% pay increase, said petrol costs have far outstripped the 40p rate with with home care staff being particularly badly hit.

‘Local government should follow NHS lead’

A spokesperson for the union said local government employers were refusing to negotiate over mileage allowances until the pay dispute was settled. “The deal over healthcare car (mileage) allowances shows that NHS Employers have realised that you can’t expect employees to subsidise the work they do. Local government should do the same.”

Local Government Employers, which represents 410 local authorities in England and Wales, was unavailable for comment. It ruled out increasing the basic mileage allowance last month, blaming a lower-than-expected settlement from central government and rising inflation.

It has warned that councils will have to cut jobs or services if the mileage allowance is set too high.

The average cost per litre of petrol has risen from 76p a litre in 2002 and 97p in June 2007 to around 117p a litre. Diesel has risen from 97.4p a year ago to 130.5p a litre.

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