Suffolk care boss warns fuel costs could soon be unsustainable

Rising fuel costs could cause Suffolk care firm to seek council support

Rising fuel costs could cause Suffolk care firm to seek council support - Credit: PA

A Suffolk care firm boss has warned rising fuel costs could force his business to seek financial support from a local authority to survive. 

David Finch, managing director of Cephas Care, which has three homes in Norfolk and Suffolk, said extra help may be needed from Suffolk County Council as prices continue to rise, with latest figures from data firm Experian Catalist showing the average cost of petrol at UK forecourts is now 168.2p per litre. 

On Wednesday, diesel prices reached an average of 181p per litre. 

At the end of February, the typical price of a litre of petrol was 150.65p, while for diesel the equivalent price at the time was 154.69p. 

Mr Finch said: “I would not want to see the price go up much more. If it continued to go up, then we would need to say to local authorities, ‘you need to help us out.’ 

“That is when we would go to the council and say, ‘you have got to do something.’ For every 2 or 3p that we have to increase our mileage rates, that costs us an extra £27,000 a year.” 

He added that at current levels, there are ways of reducing costs, including leaving vacant posts unfilled, while where services were being provided privately, the families would meet the extra costs. 

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Expenses for mileage costs are decided on the basis of a variety of factors, including wear and tear on the car, insurance fees and the costs of fuel. 

Mr Finch said Cephas looked to pay expenses at a rate that was 1p more per mile than fuel costs, so if petrol was 32p a mile, the mileage claim would be paid at 33p. 

“As much as we have been able to increase our mileage rate, the cost of everything else has gone up with that, including food costs, electricity and gas,” he added. 

Toby Warren, senior policy officer with Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, said the business organisation was calling for a greater cut in fuel duty than the current 5p per litre, adding that the duty accounts for more than 50p per litre. 

He added: “Given the county’s strong presence in the transport and haulage sectors, rising fuel prices are having a particularly baleful impact on economic activity in Suffolk.  

“Furthermore, our members in the construction sector are carrying the additional burden of the recent ban on using red diesel, which is cheaper than regular diesel.” 

A spokesperson for the county council did not wish to comment on the rising fuel costs, but directed people to help and support available elsewhere, including the Suffolk Advice and Support Service Helpline which can provide advice on debt, rent and mortgage arrears and can be contacted on 0800 0683131. 

Further information can be found by visiting https://www.healthysuffolk.org.uk/advice-services/adults/poverty-reduction