Ulez expansion will put ‘enormous’ financial pressure on the NHS and carers, warns Care England chief

29 November 2022, 10:25

Sadiq Khan has announced plans to expand London's Ulez
Sadiq Khan has announced plans to expand London's Ulez. Picture: LBC/TfL
Theo Usherwood

By Theo Usherwood

Vulnerable people who are looked after in their own homes face a crisis because of Sadiq Khan’s decision to expand his green tax on diesel vehicles, the body which represents care workers has warned.

Professor Martin Green, chief executive at Care England, says the move to expand the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) to cover Greater London from next August, will also means pressures on the NHS become “even more acute”, as those requiring daily care have no choice but to dial 999 for help.

Under the Mayor of London’s plans, anyone driving into London who has a car or van that does not meet emission standards, will have to pay the £12.50 daily charge.

For the average full-time worker, that works out at £244-a-month. There are currently 230,000 care workers in London, earning on average just under £24,000 a year. The new charge represents a 15% tax on their take-home pay.

Read more: Ulez expansion confirmed by Mayor of London

Professor Green says that it is simply unaffordable, and so many in London who need care in their own home will simply have to go without.

“It’s terribly unfair,” he told LBC. “What it will do is that it will increase the pressure, which is enormous, on care services and on health services.

“Already, we have huge problems getting staff, particularly to deliver care in peoples’ own home. This is going to make it even worse.

“The Mayor is doing a really detrimental thing extending this charge. He seems to have no understanding of the impact this will have on the most vulnerable.

“That includes the people receiving services. But it also includes the people on low wages who are providing vital support, which enables people particularly to live in their own homes.”

Last week, Sadiq Khan announced that from August 29th next year the Ulez will be extended from the boundaries of the North and South Circular roads to cover the entirety of Greater London.

Transport for London estimate 160,000 cars and 42,000 vans will be eligible to pay the charge, which is applied broadly to diesels registered before 2016, and petrol vehicles before 2005.

But Professor Green warned many of those he represents cannot afford to upgrade their cars given the financial pressures so many people are under.

Therefore, they will have no choice but to not provide care in London, which – he told LBC – will put additional pressure on the NHS.

“We all know how pressurised the NHS is,” Professor Green added.

“The NHS is going to be affected by this. There are lots of people in the NHS, who maybe in ancillary roles or maybe starting their careers in nursing… and they’re not going to be able to afford this charge either.

“Lots of people would not get services and that would then make the situation in the NHS even more acute, because people would then go into crisis. The only way they would be able to get support is to dial 999.”

In statement to LBC, a spokesman for the Mayor of London said there is a scrappage scheme worth up to £2,000 per car.

The spokesman added: “The Mayor has listened to Londoners throughout this process and has asked TfL to explore what further support could be provided to care workers who may not have compliant vehicles in London.

"Although this is not straightforward, the Mayor has asked TfL to see what they can do without undermining the air quality benefits of the scheme."

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