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Disability Review Must Focus On Deep Underfunding

The newly appointed review panel into disability support services must seriously consider how to fund disability support properly, not just cut costs, says New Zealand Disability Support Network CEO Peter Reynolds.

"The Minister says the review will focus on 'ensuring these services are sustainable long-term'. That can’t mean reducing access or service levels for disabled people. The only way to make the disability sector truly sustainable is to increase funding so people who need it can get the help required.”

"The vast bulk of budget for disability support services goes straight to frontline workers helping disabled New Zealanders – frontline workers are a priority for this government, and here’s their chance to prove it. There’s no room for cuts, considering historic underfunding has already left support services 24% underfunded and any reduction in funding means a disabled person missing out on support.”

“With the growing and ageing population, more complex needs and rising costs, we estimate a 10.4% increase in funding is needed just to keep pace with cost pressures in Budget 2024. Additionally, the Government needs to fund the stalled pay equity settlement for care and support workers.”

“Disability support providers are already struggling to keep their heads above water. Cost overruns in disability support programmes are not signs of mismanagement but underfunding over a decade.”

“We would welcome any efficiencies that can be made in service procurement and contract oversight, which would save costs both for the Ministry of Disabled People and suppliers, which is also taxpayer money - but any savings must be put back into frontline disability services.”

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“Review panellists Sir Wevers, Leanne Spice and Reverend Edridge are all well respected with great experience in governance, finance and among the disabled community to make a difference.”

“They must be empowered to address the root causes of the Ministry’s challenges, like funding, forecasting and modelling, effective leadership and service design and delivery. The panel must be given the right scope to make recommendations that not are not only sustainable, but truly empower disabled New Zealanders to live good lives.”

“The Ministry holds a crucial role in the lives of hundreds of thousands of disabled New Zealanders and their families. On behalf of our members, NZDSN offers any assistance the review panel requires to understand the pressure providers are under and how that can be addressed.”

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