15 May 2012

$143m funding boost for disabilities sector

5:54 pm on 15 May 2012

The disabilities sector is to receive a large chunk of new health funding in the Budget.

Health Minister Tony Ryall made the announcement in Queenstown on Tuesday.

Mr Ryall says an extra $143.7 million will be made available during the next four years to improve the lives of people with disabilities.

He says it will provide for more home and community support services, such as help with showering, preparing a meal and housework.

The minister says it will also fund hearing aids and hoists, and increase the numbers of disabled people using residential support services.

It brings the total amount the Government spends on supporting disabled people to more than $1 billion a year.

However, extra money will not be going towards family caregivers, despite a Court of Appeal decision on Monday that families should be paid to care for their disabled children.

Opposition doubts

The Labour Party says the Government's announcement of new funding for the disabilities sector looks good on paper, but there is nothing about where the money is coming from.

Labour disabilities spokesperson Clare Curran says the sector certainly needs the new funding, but not if it comes at the expense of others.

Ms Curran says a zero Budget next week has been signalled, so if the Government is making cuts in other areas it should be transparent about it.

Green Party MP Mojo Mathers says the funding is not enough to meet the growing needs of the disabilities sector.

She says, for example, the $1.3 million that has been allocated for additional cochlear implants is only a fifth of what is required.

The Budget will be delivered on 24 May.