Whaikaha – Changes to Disability Support Services – EMS and Flexible Funding

Click Here: Whaikaha – Purchasing Rules and Equipment and Modification Services (EMS) Update

Whaikaha have just announced changes to the system for purchasing equipment and modification services.  The covering e-mail states that “…changes do not reduce the amount of funding that is allocated to disabled people (or carers), they provide clarity and certainty for disabled people and their whānau about what can be purchased.”  The new rules go further than EMS and include setting new rules for what disability support funding can be used to buy, when using Individualised Funding, Enhanced Individualised Funding, Choice in Community Living, Personal Budgets or Carer Support.  The new rules come into force from today.

It is hard, however, not to see these changes as part of the Ministry’s budget management measures.  The Ministry’s announcement talks about “…increasing pressure across the disability support system in both the demand for, and cost of these services and supports.”  NZDSN will be assessing the changes closely to identify any adverse impacts on providers and the disabled people they serve.

We have been anticipating changes like this for the last few weeks, since the new Government began to introduce its range of austerity measures and cutbacks.  Whaikaha, as the new disability Ministry, has been particularly hard hit with funding levels falling way short of what is needed to meet demand in the face of rising costs and decades of underfunding.

For those services engaged in EMS or the support services impacted by these new rules, please feel free to let me know if these changes are a significant problem for providers and/or disabled people so we can work with Whaikaha to minimise that impact and ensure the Minister and her Cabinet colleagues are well aware of that impact on a significant proportion of the community.

It is evident that these changes have had limited consultation and appear prior to the new CEOs’ Group holding its first meeting.  If the approach taken is problematic, I can imagine the topic will be high on the agenda for that first meeting on the 28th.

Peter Reynolds