Rhondda Cynon Taff Council’s decision to slash mileage rates for staff will cost the public purse more.
A dossier produced by UNISON Cymru/Wales proves that forcing council workers to use public transport in the course of their jobs actually increases costs.
The council’s decision saw it break nationally-recognised HMRC guidelines on fair mileage rates and become the only Welsh council not to offer a reasonable mileage allowance, meant that some social workers will lose up to £960 a year under the scheme.
In ongoing industrial action, UNISON members throughout the council are currently refusing to use their cars for work.
Employees repeatedly argued the decision was a false economy and now the comprehensive dossier proves it.
The UNISON report, which has been complied from members’ case studies, reveals:
- social worker home visits take twice as long. Typically, one-hour visits are now two hours and two-hour visits are now four hours;
- more travel time means social workers have less time to see people and less time to write reports up on their clients;
- there have been cancelled visits due to limited travel services and time constraints;
- transporting equipment or providing lifts for clients becomes impracticable;
- there are risks to personal safety as staff on home visits have found themselves walking along busy roads with no pavements and through isolated underpasses.
UNISON RCT branch secretary Peter Crews said: “UNISON’s industrial action is showing the council how much it benefitted from the goodwill of the workforce to provide their own vehicles for business.
“By making it unaffordable to use private cars, the council has put itself in the ridiculous position of paying staff to wait at bus stops and doubled their travel time.
“RCT’s social workers didn’t go into the profession to sit around on buses all day. They want to be doing what they love – travelling round easily to help vulnerable members of society.
“It was wrong for the council to decide to plug a budget shortfall by attacking the conditions of its dedicated public service employees, who are still suffering reduced earnings after years of pay freezes.
“Councillors must return to the negotiating table at the earliest opportunity.”