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Disabled support package a mess

Dr Paul Hutchison
National Disability Issues Spokesman

6 November 2006

Disabled support package a mess

Though most groups support the intent of the Disabled Persons Employment Promotion (Repeal and Related Matters) Bill, the support package for people with disabilities and their employers is a mess, says National’s Disability Issues spokesman, Dr Paul Hutchison.

The bill has been languishing on the order paper since last year’s election while the Government frantically seeks support for it.

“National opposed the bill in its current form and, like United Future and NZ First, expressed doubt about its compliance costs and practicalities in the report to the Social Services Select Committee. The Maori Party is also known to have concerns.

“This bill should be scrapped or at least amended,”says Dr Hutchison.

“At the time of the select committee hearing there were approximately 3,500 people with disabilities working in sheltered workshops. Today there are only 800 to 1,000.

“Those who have left have largely gone into so-called ‘community participation’ schemes, and those who remain in sheltered workshops highly value their jobs.

“Of course it would be ideal for all people with disabilities to work in open employment where practical, but sheltered workshops provide a choice and an atmosphere that many people with disabilities and their families value.

“Because of the Government’s failure to sort out the practicalities around the bill, many people are deeply worried about their jobs and some employers are worried about the viability of staying open.

“Hundreds of people with disabilities are caught by ill-defined arrangements, including assessment of their individual productivity. It’s a cruel measure that will cost people with disabilities their jobs.

“This amounts to the Labour Government and Ruth Dyson wanting to ram through legislation affecting people with disabilities that has not been properly worked through,” says Dr Hutchison.

ENDS

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