19 Oct 2009

Govt has not considered ACC excess

5:54 am on 19 October 2009

The office of ACC minister Nick Smith says the Government has given no consideration to introducing an excess on all accident compensation injury claims.

The new ACC board has been considering the concept as part of a push to save billions of dollars from the scheme, although it has been shelved for now.

The proposal included a $50 or $100 excess, progressively reducing the amount of income compensation paid while claimants are off work and a two-year limit of compensation for soft tissue injuries such as back aches.

It would have saved the scheme $1.6 billion over 10 years.

A spokesperson for Nick Smith says the minister has seen no such recommendation from the Board.

And he says it is not included in the Government's current legislative proposals.

Over the last four months ACC's new board has discussed a range of options to cut back the scheme's costs.

ACC chairman John Judge said changes already announced, including levy rises and a cutback in entitlements, are enough to save $2 billion over the medium-term.

Other ideas have been brought to the board over the past three or four months as "possibilities, and no more", he says.

"In trying to deal with the huge financial deficit of the ACC we've really had to look at a whole series of ideas, mostly that schemes overseas use, " Mr Judge says.

"Some of them will be rejected by the board, some of them may be put through to ... the minister for discussion".

He says the other ideas have been shelved for now and it would be one or two years at the earliest before any could be introduced.

Mr Judge said a small excess on claims would save significant amounts of money, partly in administration costs, as many claims are for small amounts.

Council of Trade Unions president Helen Kelly says the proposals would punish low income earners.