It takes a lot to shock me but I must confess there was a certain amount of disbelief when I found out recently that care workers who deal with people in their own homes quite often don’t get paid for their travelling time between clients or even reimbursed for their petrol costs.

According to the organisation Low Incomes Tax Reform Group, many home care workers are not paid for their travel time – this can sometimes cause problems with the national minimum wage/national living wage.

It is not a requirement under minimum wage law for a care worker to be paid for their travel from home to a place of work, nor their associated out of pocket expenses such as vehicle mileage.

This is despite the fact that client demand may mean that care workers can have a fragmented rota that results in long gaps spent at home.

Having recently found this out, I wasn’t surprised to see a headline on the Guardian’s website saying that soaring fuel prices are adding to care worker shortages in Cheshire East as those who look after people at home struggle to pay for petrol.

Cheshire East was awarded £19.4m government funding over two years of the pandemic to help support the care market in areas including infection control, testing and vaccination and workforce recruitment and retention.

And it’s now been revealed that some of that has gone towards easing the fuel pressures for care at home workers.

And I’m happy to see that but we’re far from being out of the woods yet.

Just listen to what Jane Burns, executive director of corporate services, told a recent meeting of the corporate services committee: “We do know there have been huge pressures on the health and social care sector and a huge amount of work to support care providers, but there are real recruitment and retention issues nationally, as well as locally, which is probably why I would summarise that as a work in progress.

"And probably a lot more will need to be done to provide a stable workforce.”

The meeting was told recruitment and retention pressures on the care market continue because of competition from the retail and hospitality industries and this has a knock-on effect for the NHS because medically fit patients can’t be discharged from hospital.

Now I’m prepared to accept that as one reason for the current problems.

It’s exactly the same reason given for the trouble in recruiting staff at Manchester Airport after all the redundancies during the height of the pandemic and subsequent travel restrictions.

Let’s face it, if you are on minimum (or near minimum) wage and your choice is between long, difficult shifts and unsocial hours as a carer or airport worker or earning the same level of wages in a nice bar or shop, there are plenty of people who would take the second option.

But there’s a huge elephant in the room here and it’s called Brexit.

The UK care sector was heavily reliant on workers from the European Union before Brexit with many returning home never to return as the country left the EU.

Since the UK left the European Union, social care workers from EU countries are no longer automatically eligible to work in the UK and instead have to apply for a visa.

Campaigners have accused the Government of ignoring the crucial role care workers played during the pandemic by excluding them from its new, points-based immigration system.

But the situation was (and to some extent still is) so dire, the government had to do an about-turn in a bid to plug the gap, adding care workers to the Home Office’s shortage occupation list, which is designed to help migrants get work visas to fill jobs where there are shortages.

Inclusion on the list will require carers to be given a minimum annual salary of £20,480. They will be entitled to bring dependants, including a partner and children.

The problem is, it’s not just the care and aviation sectors that have been hit.

We’ve already had a shortage of lorry drivers, warehouse workers, agricultural workers, abattoir and butchery workers, accommodation and food services employees, construction workers and even professional, scientific and technical activities staff.

So maybe when your flight is cancelled, or you can’t get home care for your elderly mum, or a builder for your extension, or there are no lettuces in Tesco, ask yourself why.

The answer is pretty obvious, I’d say.