Kind hearted Kiwis used to prop-up Government under-funding
“Charitable dollars should not be used to subsidise under-funded Government services,” says CCS Disability Action Chief Executive David Matthews. “The generous donations Kiwis give should be used to enhance basic services and also provide for badly needed improvements to infrastructure as well as supporting innovation”.
Matthews’ comment is in response to the recently released New Zealand Disability Support Network report that identifies the extent of historic under-funding in the Disability Sector. It also comes in response to the news received by governance leaders of CCS Disability Action at its recent National Annual General Meeting, of the nearly three million dollar operating deficit for the organisation in the past year, continuing a history of operating deficits. “This deficit is a direct reflection of what Government provides and what it actually costs to deliver services through 29 locations across New Zealand. What keeps our organisation going is the generosity of New Zealanders, who through donations and legacies help to bridge the gap between the actual reality of providing support to disabled people and the reality of Government funding,” says Matthews.
CCS Disability Action has regularly raised the issue of under-funding with Ministry officials. “They do not disagree with our view but cannot seem to convince Ministers and their Cabinet colleagues of the urgent need for a greater investment in the disability sector – this needs to change – right now!”
For organisations like CCS Disability Action, who provide vital support to disabled people and their families across New Zealand, the current deficit situation will mean that employee positions cannot be replaced when they leave and services must be trimmed to the bare minimum required by Government contracts.
“This will have an impact on our day to day support of disabled people and their families. It will threaten our ability to be present where disabled people live and it impacts on the morale of our dedicated and hard-working staff. The last thing we want to do is replace a person to person service with a virtual or 0800 one”
The most galling aspect of this under-funding situation was information received about the salaries of Connectors, part of the new Mana Whaikaha agency, directly funded by the Ministry of Health and part of the new trial of the transformation of the Disability Sector. “Starting salaries of around $60,000 plus for work which is no harder than any task carried out by our Service Coordinators simply sent the message that Government will look after its own staff and squeeze every dollar it can out of community organisations like ours. There is no way that we can match those salaries for even our most experienced Coordinators given current Government contract rates.” As a result of this inequity, CCS Disability Action lost four experienced and highly valued staff to the new agency.
“All I am asking for is a level playing field and a clear commitment to address proven historical underfunding. If 12% is too much in one hit, then Government should commit to a flat increase over its standard contract adjustment for the next 2 or 3 years. Given the contribution that organisation’s like ours have made over many years to supporting disabled people and their families to have a good life, I do not think that this request is unreasonable.”