CMrs Lockhart had raised the issue publicly on Wednesday, with the Minister responding with the move this morning.
Carla Lockhart said:
“This is an issue we have been raising in correspondence with the Minister for several months, urging him to act, yet in each response he has refused to confirm a rise in mileage rate. It is regrettable that I had to bring these concerns into the public domain to force a move, but I do welcome what is a small step forward by the Minister, Robin Swann MLA.
This is a temporary change. For many in Northern Ireland who live in rural communities it is not unusual to clock more than 1000 miles per month whilst serving their patients. They must fuel their car to do their job and then lie out the money until it is paid into their account. There needs to be a permanent solution to mileage but also a permanent solution for pay and conditions for those working in community care. There needs to be better progression in the sector.
The Minister needs to justify why civil servants in his department are entitled to more in mileage, than the frontline workers providing vital care. He must also give workers a firm deadline as to when the limited uplift is going to be paid. We all remember the debacle and delays in payment of the gratitude payment for healthcare workers – the same cannot happen with these mileage reimbursements.
All I am asking for is fairness, and for these workers to be given the mileage rate needed to break even, and not have to delve into their own pocket to supplement their work. That is not an unreasonable ask.”