Monday, April 22, 2024

No disabled person to lose essential services promises Minister

Minister for Disability Issues, Penny Simmonds today said no disabled person will lose access to funding for essential services, equipment, or support, despite a forecast budget overrun in the disability support appropriation.

“The changes that the Ministry for Disabled People, Whaikaha is making, are simply about ensuring the funding allocated to disabled people is actually being used for that purpose,” said the Minister.

“During Covid, restrictions on what this funding could be spent on were loosened – that may have been appropriate during that unique period, but it no longer is.

“The Ministry is restoring some but not all restrictions on what this funding can be spent on – for example equipment or services for disabled people rather than overseas travel or haircuts for their carers. This is appropriate.

“Our focus is on the needs of disabled people. We intend to ensure that funding gets directly to where it is needed.

“To be clear, this is not a reduction in funding – it simply changes how the current funding can be used to ensure maximum benefit for the disabled person.”

The Minister said the flexible support budget is used by families to purchase disability supports. The change to the equipment and modification budget is to ensure equipment and property/motor vehicle modifications are prioritised to those with the greatest need, she said.

“Parents will still be able use the support budget to pay for within region travel and essential tools.”

“I appreciate that the consultation was not as wide as it should have been before implementing the changes. We are improving processes around communication.

“What is important is that the needs of disabled people will continue to be the highest priority for this coalition Government.”

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