I am currently campaigning for care workers across the country to be given council-issued free parking passes for use whilst working.
I believe that carers who spend each day visiting and caring for upwards of 15 different people in their homes should not have to pay out-of-pocket for parking.
Whilst some care agencies do refund staff for the money they spend on parking whilst attending the homes of the people they care for, it is often the case that both parking and mileage costs come out-of-pocket direct from the carer.
They can pay for up to 20 half-hour parking tickets in a day, costing around 90p per ticket. The cost of this adds up - £10 to £20 per day just to do their job in a sector which already suffers from low pay is not sustainable and not right.
HMRC already offers tax relief on mileage incurred for work purposes, but there is currently no scheme in place to help with parking charges.
I contacted Sefton Council last summer to see whether a parking pass could be issued to carers within Southport, which would allow them to park for free in council-operated parking spaces.
Unfortunately they wouldn't, and so I have taken this case directly to the Government and asked whether a national scheme could be considered.
In Southport we have many care homes and elderly residents, with hundreds of carers. It is vital that we try and support them as much as we can.
I would like to see additional, ringfenced funding provided to local councils to compensate for the reduction in parking income they would see from the proposals.
Carers have put in a monumental effort supporting the most vulnerable people in our communities throughout this pandemic. I hope that the Government will carefully consider what support we can offer them.