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Source: IHC

IHC New Zealand is asking Whaikaha to clarify changes to disabled people’s funding and what it means moving forward.

Monday’s sudden announcement caused an uproar of confusion and stress from the disability community about whether people could continue receiving disability support services.

“How do disabled people live their lives when the Government presses pause?” questions IHC Director of Advocacy Tania Thomas.

“This is effectively a cut into their quality of life while enabling Whaikaha to draw down on the unspent funding packages. To all intents and purposes, it looks very much like a cost-saving exercise.

“The system isn’t perfect, however hitting pause like this means people don’t know how to live their lives today, tomorrow and next week. It’s no way to live.

“The disability sector has been underfunded for years and is already in an impoverished state. Now this blowout comes despite Whaikaha’s knowledge that it needs to be careful with funding. There is real fear about what will be next.

“Disabled adults, children, families and whānau need assurances that their rights are going to be upheld and that the Government is committed to the Enabling Good Lives principles.

“We remember the way things used to be when people couldn’t use their budgets because there was nothing available for them to purchase that suited their needs. Now there are purchase options but there is a pause on spending.

“We know that families are already struggling, and this confusion sets them back even further. What’s been missing here is consultation. Suggesting Individualised Funding (IF) is expensive is not the same as giving people a warning.

“Whaikaha has set up a number of consultation groups, and yet for a decision like this that impacts so many people’s lives there has been no discussion.

“There may be multiple solutions to the current challenges, to being clearer about what ‘different’ looks like. The key is community and their voices, their expert advice and insights, people who are leaders in EGL, Te Tiriti and the UNCPRD. Whaikaha must do better.”

IHC’s 2023 report, From Data to Dignity to Dignity has revealed a number of stark statistics around the outcomes of disabled people in New Zealand today. We are concerned this week’s announcement will only seek to make things worse.

  • 74% of families with an intellectually disabled child have only one parent working compared to 63% of families in the general population.
  • In all age groups, intellectually disabled people have lower household income. Households with intellectually disabled children have around $6000 less than other households per year.
  • 24% of intellectually disabled children live in the most deprived areas compared to 15% of children in the general population.
  • 35% of intellectually disabled Māori children live in the most deprived areas compared to 28% of other Māori children.
  • 44% of intellectually disabled Pacific children live in the most deprived areas compared to 39% of other Pacific children.
  • 43% of intellectually disabled children live in a mouldy house compared to 36% of children in the general population.
  • One in five intellectually disabled children live in a crowded home, but intellectually disabled people in all age groups are more likely to live in a crowded home than people in the general population.

About IHC New Zealand
IHC New Zealand advocates for the rights, inclusion and welfare of all people with intellectual disabilities and supports them to live satisfying lives in the community. IHC provides advocacy, volunteering, events, membership associations and fundraising. It is part of the IHC Group, which also includes IDEA Services, Choices NZ and Accessible Properties.