Social care workers have warned that spiraling fuel costs could force them out of their jobs.
Local workers are reporting having to pay bills of up to £200 a month for visiting clients, leaving some questioning whether they can afford to work.
One private sector Helensburgh carer, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “I have noticed over the past couple of weeks, I am putting more and more in and basically getting nothing back for it.
“Before the prices were rising, I was spending £42 on a tank, now it’s more like £150 a week.
“We get 25p a mile. Last month, in my wages I got back £137.
“Sometimes it is a 60-mile round trip to see a client.
“It’s getting to the stage where I am thinking, ‘can I actually afford to work’?”
Another carer, who has worked with the same private company for five years, added: “I love the job. It’s a great job.
“It’s really rewarding especially when you are going to visit people who are lonely and you are their only contact with the outside world. It’s phenomenal.
“You want to help, you want to make a difference but we are understaffed and 25p a mile doesn’t really cut it.
“I used to be able to put a couple of quid back into my savings a month for a rainy day but I can’t do that anymore.
“You get your wages, pay your bills and there’s nothing really above and above that.”
The social care workers took their concerns to Dumbarton MSP Jackie Baillie, who said their situation highlights the need for a minimum wage of £15 per hour in the care sector.
Ms Baillie says she has written to the Cabinet Secretary as social care workers in the private sector are often delivering public sector contracts.
She added: “Through my conversations with the social care workers, it is clear that they all love their job and feel as though they are providing a vital service to vulnerable members of the community. I couldn’t agree more with this.
“Social care staff have been on the frontline throughout the pandemic and deserved all the applause which was given as we took to our doorsteps on a Thursday night, during the pandemic.
“However we know they don’t get paid enough which is why Scottish Labor has been pushing for £15 per hour for our care workers. Now they are facing huge bills just to visit their clients to provide care for them. This is not on and needs to be addressed immediately.”
Social Care Minister Kevin Stewart said: “The Scottish Government is actively engaged with its partners, including local government, to understand what impact the increase in fuel prices is having across Scotland and how social care providers can support their staff through this period.
“We are providing £200million this year to support investment in health and social care, embed improved pay and conditions and deliver a £10.50 minimum wage for adult social care staff, the highest minimum wage for these staff in the UK.”