21 Apr 2019

Disability sector thankful planned funding cuts scrapped

6:56 pm on 21 April 2019

The New Zealand Disability Support Network says it is thankful to ministers who stepped in to prevent sector-wide funding cuts.

Woman in wheelchair next to an office desk, hand close up, unrecognizable person

Photo: 123rf

Documents show the Ministry of Health planned to cut up to $10 million from services by June 2019.

A further $20m was set to be cut in the next financial year to help resolve a $90m deficit.

Disability Support Network chief executive Garth Bennie said he was grateful they had been prevented.

He said the cuts would have had flow on effects, which would make it difficult for providers to maintain current services.

However, Dr Bennie said he knew the the ministry was still under enormous pressure to reign in spending.

"Without a substantial boost in this year's budget there is going to be significant and ongoing pressure to manage people's access to services and the likelihood of further cuts down the line."

He said the disability sector was in financial crisis as it faced a $150m shortfall.

"Although the government put in $58 million of extra funding last year, it really hasn't gone anywhere," he said.

"I mean the increased demand for services, the increased costs of providing services have all conspired to mean that even with that $58 million funding boost, the current deficit is heading towards $100 million."

Dr Bennie said he wants the government to start looking at a new and sustainable approach to funding that recognises the cost of providing a service.

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