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Lack of funding to blame for industrial action

National Residential Intellectual Disability Providers Group (NRID)

Lack of Government funding to blame for industrial action

For Immediate Release
January 16, 2008

The National Residential Intellectual Disability Providers Group (NRID) continues to be frustrated at the funding freeze by the Disability Services Directorate of the Ministry of Health.

The recent strike at Brackenridge is just the latest indicator there are funding problems in the sector. The funding freeze, and the ongoing underfunding of disability services, explains why the most marginalised and disadvantaged people in our communities are left without support while staff are forced to strike in an attempt to encourage the Ministry of Health to fund organisations so they can be paid a fair wage.

While the Government highlights the extra funding going into the wider health sector, Intellectual Disability organisations continue to face serious funding shortfalls. The quality of our services depends on our ability to employ a stable and reliable workforce, but low wages mean the disability sector is increasingly an unrealistic career pathway for many.

NRID employers are being asked to give staff a 0% increase in 2007-08. Add to this significant wage increases outside the disability sector in particular within DHB’s – food workers, household, orderlies staff and the general workforce and our ability to compete to attract and retain staff is increasingly difficult.

Money approved by Cabinet to help improve wage rates has been diverted to cover cost overruns in other projects. While these over runs appear too many to have been foreseeable, it seems they were not adequately budgeted for by the Ministry.

Supporting people with an intellectual disability can be a demanding job yet one that is fundamental to ensuring these people live ordinary and valued lives in our community. This funding freeze is likely to have serious implications for the many families who rely on the support of this sector as providers question the viability of ongoing service delivery.

NRID questions if a freeze on funding for Intellectual Disability providers must also imply a freeze on the disability strategy.

The current freeze represents a further division in understanding between those that hold the purse strings and those that help those people who need support.

Organisations that support people with an intellectual disability are primarily charitable trusts reliant on Ministry of Health funding for these services. Wages are only one example of cost escalations these organisations are facing. This is not a question of organisations making profits; it’s about the long term viability of service providers and ensuring their dedicated staff receive fair reimbursement for the great job they do.

* NRID is an umbrella group that represents nearly 50 organisations who support approximately 7,000 people who have an intellectual disability


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