Disability Sector Facing Death By A Thousand Cuts To Fund Tax Cuts

An ongoing series of disability support services cuts, including equipment disabled people can purchase to help them live good lives, offering respite for them and their carers amongst other costs is undermining the entire disability sector, says New Zealand Disability Support Network CEO Peter Reynolds.

NZDSN is a network of not-for-profit organisations and some for-profit NGOs that provide support services to disabled people, mainly through contracts with the government.

“This abrupt ban on respite funding and other options to meet the needs of disabled people comes on top of the reduction in benefit increases, the below-inflation minimum wage increase, the removal of half price public transport for under 25’s, and the upcoming reinstatement of prescription charges. Every one of these penny-pinching moves heaps pressure on disabled people, their families and those who support them during the cost-of-living crisis.”

“We fear this is just the beginning, with rumours of a funding freeze for frontline disability services in the coming Budget. Disability support services are badly underfunded already.  While disability support services budgets have grown 10% a year on average, it often struggles and fails to keep up with increasing demand, staff costs and other cost-of-living factors. The sector is already on its knees; a funding freeze would effectively be a deep cut that would see some support services under intolerable pressure.”

“On top of that, there has been no progress from the government in settling the Pay Equity claims for care and support workers. Providers want to be able to pay their workers fairly and offer attractive wages to address the workforce shortage, but they depend on the government to provide the funding, and it’s failing to do so.”

“The government cannot plead poverty, not when it is about to pass a law to give $2.9b to landlords. It is not right that disabled New Zealanders, their whānau and the workers and providers that support them should face cutbacks while such largesse is lavished on landlords,” says Mr Reynolds.