Last month, The RAC Foundation, a transport policy and research organisation, announced that frontline workers who use their car for work are out of pocket by an average of £6,000 a year due to out-of-date mileage rates.
Since then, the union has heard from numerous members about their experiences.
Roger Lewis said: “It’s an outrageous scandal that the higher the mileage workers have to travel in their cars, the more out of pocket we are. It’s a financial disincentive or penalty for doing our work. We should be paid properly.”
Community care worker Debbie Pink said: “We have not had an increase in our mileage costs for twelve years, yet the fuel prices have vastly been inflated. It’s costing me more and more to travel and use my car, not to mention the cost of repairs to my vehicle due to the road surfaces.”
Using UNISON data, The RAC Foundation has calculated that approved mileage allowance payments (AMAPs) should be 63.4p per mile, a significant increase on the existing HMRC rate of 45p, which has not been updated since 2011.
One UNISON member, who works night shifts, said: “I do on average 80 miles per night. Last year I went over 9000 miles and only got 14p per mile there after. I’ve just paid over £300 for four new tyres. It used to be beneficial for me to use my car but it certainly isn’t now.”
One UNISON member who works as a teaching assistant and drives a battery electric vehicle (BEV) said: “I do not have to claim mileage for work very often, but when I do, my county council is so backward in its approach to electric vehicles that it still does not have an option for the school’s business manager to claim for my BEV mileage, despite the huge increases in energy costs.
“This also extends to the public provision of charging points which has been dire throughout our car ownership.”
UNISON’s recommendations for government:
- increase mileage rates, now, to 63.4p per mile, and commit to a quarterly review and recalculation to coincide with Advisory Fuel Rate calculations*
- restructure AMAPs to raise the cap from 3,500 to 10,000 miles – and ensure mileage rate tiers are removed in NJC and Agenda for Change terms too
- take urgent action on public sector pay and low wages, so that staff are not in such a vulnerable financial situation again
- invest in a public sector Electric Vehicle (EV) fleet rollout, ensuring the funding is available to public bodies to offer all grey fleet (meaning cars that are owned by the employee but used for work purposes) drivers the option to use an EV to drive between clients or sites
- explore introducing a grey fleet scrappage scheme similar to the Mayor of London’s ultra lower emission zone (ULEZ) scheme that supports low-income drivers to scrap the highest polluting vehicles.
*the rates set by government to assist businesses in reimbursing or being reimbursed for fuel costs of company cars.