New data shows disability providers under extreme pressure to deliver contracted support

New Zealand Disability Service Network media release

20 December 2023

New data shows disability service providers are struggling to meet demands for their services, and over a third are operating at a loss, meaning there are no guarantees for disabled New Zealanders seeking support.

A December New Zealand Disability Service Network member survey showed:

  • 61% receive requests for support they can’t meet
  • 64% say they will struggle to provide their contracted services at the current rate of funding
  • 33% made a loss in the 22/23 financial year

Alarmingly, over half of providers surveyed said it was extremely or moderately difficult to recruit support workers in 2023.

“This data shows a fundamental imbalance between the demand for services and providers struggling to provide them,” said NZDSN CEO Peter Reynolds. “This is a sector under extreme pressure to provide the support disabled people need.”

“Many disabled New Zealanders can’t access the support needed now because providers simply don’t have the staff or capacity to offer it. If these trends of debt and recruitment challenges continue, we’ll see services being scaled back or worse, with service providers giving up and shutting down.”

NZDSN says these figures show the effect of disability support funding effectively falling behind inflation by 24% over the last ten years, and that urgent action is needed to turn the situation around.

“Our members are dealing with uncertainty of future funding, and no clarity on two Pay Equity claims,” said Peter Reynolds. 

“We need a clear plan for providers not just surviving but thriving, and becoming capable of recruiting and retaining workers who are paid fairly for these demanding but vital, rewarding roles. Only then will disabled New Zealanders and their families be reassured they’ll receive the quality support they need and deserve.”