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Whaikaha funding fails to support kiwis with disabilities, leaving them disappointed

woman feeding food to girl with disabilities
Photo: Christopher A. Salerno / Shutterstock

“A 3% funding uplift from Whaikaha is not enough for disability providers to meet rising costs and provide better wages for staff to combat the cost-of-living crisis”, New Zealand Disability Support Network CEO Peter Reynolds says.

The New Zealand Disability Support Network (NZDSN) represents over 200 disability support providers, who provide support to tens of thousands of New Zealanders with disabilities.

“For well over a decade, successive governments have starved the disability sector of funding. Large increases in recent budgets have not yet begun to provide the money needed both to meet rising demand and rising costs.

Increasing numbers of New Zealanders are seeking access to support because they experience some form of disability. At the same time funding has not kept pace with inflation. In fact, the disability support sector is behind by an estimated 24%.”

“Providers welcomed the $863.6 million allocated to disability over the next four years in Budget 2023. But this allocation has to be shared between meeting the costs of increasing demand and relieving cost increase pressures impacting on support. Only now, in late August, has Whaikaha confirmed that providers of disability support could expect a 3% fee uplift.”

“Compared to providers’ cost pressures, this isn’t a real uplift, it’s a “dribble” and that fails to provide for the 1-in-4 New Zealanders with disabilities and endangers the viability of some support services.”

“At the same time as Whaikaha announced a 3% funding dribble, Te Whatu Ora announced a 5% increase in funding for their contracted services. The Ministry of Social Development announced a 7% increase for their contracted services. Why then is Whaikaha being so miserly?”

“Worse, Whaikaha officials confirm that in order to pay the 3% funding dribble, they have to re-prioritise their plans for the year and cut back on some initiatives. It feels like even potholes get more attention than disabled people.”

“The government’s major strategy for the disability sector is called “Enabling Good Lives” and focuses on empowering disabled people with the right to choose the support they receive to meet their needs. How can this strategy be delivered effectively when the sector is being starved of the funding needed to deliver it?”

“NZDSN calls on the government to do the right thing. Don’t turn your back on the disabled community. Whaikaha needs to increase the funding dribble to realistic levels, to at least match the 7% increase from Social Development, with immediate effect,” says Reynolds.

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