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Whaikaha Review The Only Option For Disability Support Change

Increased access and improved quality of support for disabled New Zealanders now depends wholly on the review of the support systems funded by Whaikaha, the Ministry of Disabled People after Budget 2024 says New Zealand Disability Support Network.

“We see the $1.1 billion allocated in the Budget to ‘address demand’ as code for meeting growth or inflation costs only. No-one’s support quality or availability will increase. It sounds like a lot of money but unfortunately it won’t cover providers’ cost increases for very long,” said Peter Reynolds, NZDSN CEO.

NZDSN’s budget analysis found that while Whaikaha appears to have received a 20% increase in departmental funding, it’s likely to be a release of contingent funding for implementing Enabling Good Lives, or a transfer of funding from the Ministry of Social Development to Whaikaha, due to more work taking place in house instead of using MSD shared services, which won’t improve support either.

“Whaikaha was underfunded before the Budget, and still is today. It’s on the independent review panel to make recommendations to address this, and for the Government to make it happen,” said Peter Reynolds.

Disability Support providers are still operating with Pay Equity uncertainty and the prospect of unfunded wage increases hanging over them. While tax cuts may help some in the sector, nothing has been done to help Employment Support providers who have gone for years without a significant increase in their fees, and who were recently given a two-year roll-over by the Ministry of Social Development without any increase.

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“Employment Support used to be important - providing paid employment opportunities for those disabled people who seek or aspire to them should be supported, nothing in the Budget addresses that unfortunately.”

“We are grateful for the funding increase, but hope the Government shares our vision of Disability Support that has a real, positive impact and enables good lives. Let’s get serious and show disabled New Zealanders they are valued and deserve to be treated fairly and equally,” said Peter Reynolds.

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