Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Fairer deal for low-income ACC clients

People on low incomes will no longer have to wait five weeks to get the minimum weekly rate of ACC, following the passing of a new Bill in Parliament today.

Minister for ACC, Peeni Henare said the Accident Compensation (Access Reporting and Other Matters) Amendment Bill means people will now be able to access the minimum rate of compensation earlier – from the second week of injury instead of having to wait until the sixth week.

The Minister said the new legislation will also make the ACC system fairer by improving data collection processes.

“Injured people on low incomes often find themselves in financial hardship when they are not able to work, and having to wait until the sixth week to be topped up to the minimum rate of ACC weekly compensation can be really tough,” he said.

The Bill brings eligibility for the minimum rate forward, by removing the delay in the top-up ensuring people receive it as soon as they are eligible for the weekly compensation.

People whose incomes mean they already receive compensation at or above the minimum rate will not be affected.

“It is estimated to benefit up to 10,000 people and help them continue to support themselves and their whānau with the cost of living while they are injured,” said Minister Henare.

“This will reverse one more of the damaging changes made by the previous National Government, which disadvantaged thousands of New Zealand workers. I’m really proud to see this Bill through tonight.”

He said the Bill also delivers on Labour’s 2020 election commitment to return ACC to its original purpose of assisting all New Zealanders who have had an injury. 

“Access to ACC is not the same for everyone in New Zealand and there is a lack of data to explain why this is. For example, we don’t know why, despite making up about 16% of the population, Māori accounted for just 12% of new accepted claims in 2020.”

“We know that some groups are accessing and benefiting less from ACC than others, but we do not have good insight into why, or the drivers of these disparities.

“The Bill will ensure that when ACC reports on access, it looks both at people with eligible injuries who have not yet made an ACC claim, as well as claimants.

“We want to remove barriers to ACC, so ensuring we have good information about how we can do that is where we need to begin,” Mr Henare said.

The changes to data reporting come in immediately after the passing of the bill, with the first report due after 30 June 2024, while the reduced eligibility for a minimum rate of ACC will be in place from later this year.  

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