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15th March 2022

How to help staff who are feeling the impact of rising energy costs

Want to help and understand how rising energy and food costs impact staff? Our QCS expert, Abi Spence, explains what you can do to support your colleagues.

Last year we wrote about the cost of petrol and gas prices rising. I even mentioned this in my New Year roundup, but none of us were prepared for the unfolding horrors this year has already seen in Ukraine.

Difficult conversation

It is difficult to talk about our discomfort at the rising prices of petrol and gas when people are dying and suffering in such a horrific way, but we must acknowledge that relative poverty is affecting people in the UK that have not been affected before.

Following the impact

If we follow the circle round, we find that if the rise of gas and petrol has increased for a health or social care worker beyond the point they can pay, then petrol is not put in their cars, and their homes cannot be heated – or worse, they now cannot afford to pay other bills such as their rent or pay for enough food.

Not your concern?

This is not necessarily a conversation people want to have with their employer, or one that they would volunteer. Perhaps it feels to the individuals concerned that this is not the provider’s concern. But the care and welfare of staff and the knock-on effects of cost of living, in turn, affects the jobs people can ‘afford’ to do, and the wellbeing of staff.

What can you do?

As a provider you may feel helpless to assist if you do not have the finances to increase wages to soften the blow. You yourselves are hit with the same costs if you are a residential or supported living setting, have a large building to maintain in healthcare or even domiciliary offices.

Money is not the only answer, but good communication is. Below, I set out some top tips to support workers in this financially difficult climate.

Top Tips

Top Tip 1 – Incorporate this topic in your 1-2-1s 

The only way you will know how people are is to ask them. This doesn’t need to be a direct question ‘are you ok for money?’ but you should be able to talk about the current fuel crisis and ask whether it is affecting people. It is always someone’s personal decision if they wish to divulge personal, financial information. The question is broad enough that they will be able to avoid talking about money if they do not want to.

Top Tip 2 – Signpost people to support

If you are unable to offer direct support as a service, you will be able to offer information where people can access help. This could be anything from Citizens Advice to the local council or charities operating in the area. A list of useful general resources can be found at the end of this blog.

Top Tip 3 – Limiting Costs

A problem shared is a problem halved. Car sharing can cut the cost of fuel for staff members. This will enable people to reduce the cost of fuel. You will need to advise staff that this is a voluntary option and is a suggestion rather than provider led. People should travel safely (resources can be found at the end of this article on this).

Top Tip 4 - sharing

Consider lunch clubs. Members of staff may want to volunteer for food to be bought in bulk like bread rolls and soups to cut costs for staff - a pound scheme where people pay into the pot and take it in turns to bulk buy for lunches.

The little things

All of these tips are little gestures of help. But the biggest is that you understand and acknowledge the workforce. Valuing people and their situations can mean a great amount and have a positive impact on their wellbeing.

Further support and Information

Resources

Citizens Advice - Article on Fuel Poverty

https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/cymraeg/amdanom-ni/about-us1/media/press-releases/energy-price-rises-will-push-more-into-fuel-poverty-says-citizens-advice/

Citizens Advice - Grants and benefits to help you pay your energy bills

https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/energy/energy-supply/get-help-paying-your-bills/grants-and-benefits-to-help-you-pay-your-energy-bills/

Turn to us - Fuel Poverty

https://www.turn2us.org.uk/Benefit-guides/Fuel-Poverty/Coping-with-rising-energy-bills

Leicester County Council - Advice for Safe Car Sharing

https://www.leicestershire.gov.uk/news/advice-for-safe-car-sharing

Money Magpie - Collective Purchasing

https://www.moneymagpie.com/save-money/bulk-buying-saving-money-in-groups#bulk

*All information is correct at the time of publishing. Use of this material is subject to your acceptance of our terms and conditions.

Abi Spence

Registration and Inspection Specialist

Abi has worked for and with Government agencies relevant to social care for the past 12+ years. Primarily with the Department of Health, Social Services Inspectorate, Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI) and since its inception the Care Quality Commission (CQC). As part of this long involvement Abi has developed a wide and detailed understanding of relevant issues and has worked closely with stakeholders such as people that use services, carers, providers, local government, the Department of Health, Ofsted and the Audit Commission. Read more

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