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Two Thirds Of Public Want Disability Funding Reinstated - New Poll

A new poll shows strong public backing to reinstate funding for Whaikaha, the Ministry of Disabled People, after sudden cuts in March that restricted support for disabled people and carers.

A poll commissioned by Talbot Mills for the Fairer Future coalition found that 66% of people support fully reinstating funding for disabled people and carers, after funding flexibility was reduced for disabled people or carers, and limits were placed on equipment that could be funded.

There was majority support to reverse the changes across supporters of all political parties. 62% of National Party voters supported reinstating the funding, along with 69% of New Zealand First voters, and 70% of ACT voters.

Leading voices among the disability and carer community continue to call for the Government to reverse its March changes, and to restore fully flexible funding.

Mojo Mathers, chief executive of the Disabled Persons Assembly, says: "These results should give Government the confidence that there is strong support right across the political spectrum to immediately reverse the restrictions on disability support funding and ensure it is properly resourced going forwards."

Nick Stoneman, disability navigator with the NZ Disability Advisory Trust, adds: "The poll shows the Government has got the sentiment wrong with the funding restrictions, which are part of an avalanche of cruel measures that they have taken. I also don't have confidence in the panel set up to review Whaikaha - which has no disabled people on it - and the Government needs to do much better at listening to disabled people.”

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Colleen Brown, of Disability Connect and the Child Poverty Action Group, states: "This Government is having a crack at everyone who is marginalised, and these decisions are having a cumulative impact, disproportionately affecting Māori children in particular. Carers have been left fearful and confused after these changes, and have lost a lot of hope, and the Government must act urgently to reverse these changes."

Mel Smith, chief executive of CCS Disability Action, says: "Disabled people and their families have been promised a disability support system where they have greater choice and control over their supports and lives for decades. This is called Enabling Good Lives. This poll shows that many Kiwis agree that the restrictions introduced earlier this year aren't fair. We are calling on the Government to meet the promise Whaikaha was founded on, to deliver a transformed, well-funded disability support system that enables all New Zealanders to have the opportunity to thrive."

The poll comes after 52 organisations from the disability sector and beyond signed an open letter calling on Ministers Upston and Willis to reverse the funding restrictions and equitably resource disability support across the whole of government.

The Fairer Future coalition is made up of anti-poverty groups such as the Child Poverty Action Group and Auckland Action Against Poverty, unions, disability advocacy groups, children's advocacy groups such as Barnardos and Save the Children, and others.

The coalition will host a People's Press Conference on Thursday 23 May at 10am (on Zoom), showcasing the voices of the disabled community, sole parents, low-wage workers, and Kāinga Ora tenants, among others, ahead of the Budget on 30 May.

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