Carers will leave jobs due to late-night bus cuts, boss says

Bus

A Suffolk care boss condemned the latest decision to cut late-night bus services in Ipswich, fearing it will leave staff unable to travel to work. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

A Suffolk care boss has condemned plans to cut late-night bus services in Ipswich, saying it will leave staff unable to travel to work.

Ipswich Borough Council announced the last buses from Ipswich town centre to most of the town's estates are likely to be cut from the end of September as part of a cost-cutting package.

Prema Fairburn-Dorai, chairwoman of the Suffolk Association of Independent Care Providers, worries that a reduction in bus services will mean fewer staff can work late-night shifts.

Prema Fairburn-Dorai

A Suffolk care boss has called for 'an immediate boost to funding' to adult social care after MPs drew attention to the 'ravaged' sector. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

She said: "This definitely impacts people who can't drive – particularly staff who need to get to care homes which are usually quite out of the way.

"The bus service is pathetic in rural areas. I think we'll end up losing staff as they simply won't be able to afford to work our late shifts."

Some staff working in semi-rural care homes can only get to their night shifts by taking the last bus of the evening and end up waiting in the staff room for up to two hours before their shift officially starts.

Ms Fairburn-Dorai thinks staff will have to turn to taxis as a means of work transport, but highlighted that fare prices are rising due to an increase in fuel costs.

She said: "The steep increase in fuel prices has been the last nail in the coffin for carers. We're willing to help and work, but we just can't afford to.

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"Recruitment is getting much harder as people are opting for jobs where they don't have to travel rather than home care."

MPs have called for a funding boost for the "ravaged" adult social care sector which is suffering under the pressures of the coronavirus pandemic, rising inflation and increases in the National Living and Minimum Wage.

The Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (LUHC) committee has insisted a cash injection and long-term plan to help the adult social care industry meet immediate cost pressures and become sustainable.

Ms Fairburn-Dorai added: "I agree totally, we need an immediate boost to funding. The care industry is on its knees.

"Providers are leaving the market because they just don't have the money. We're haemorrhaging staff out of the sector."