The Ministry of Health’s notification that disability support providers will receive a paltry 1% contract price increase after 3 years of nil increases shows the need for political parties to step up with increased disability funding this election.
The decision applies to organisations contracted by the Ministry to provide a wide range of disability support services. This tight funding comes as demand for services and supports are surging – some of which is due to the impact of COVID 19 on families and disabled people, says Disability Support Network CEO Dr Garth Bennie.
While Budget 2020 provided for a significant funding boost for the disability sector it is likely to have little impact on relieving the cost pressures for providers or responding to the increased demand for supports and services.
“The Budget increase really only addressed the shortfalls that had been accumulating over several years and leaves unresolved the actual funding gap for providers. Pay equity funding requirements also accounted for a good proportion of budget increases. There is very little left for new initiatives, increasing costs, or to meet increasing demand,” says Dr Bennie.
“The crisis that we outlined in the 2020 Sector Briefing will continue:
· Providers will have to seriously consider exiting programmes and end up with staffing levels that could compromise good practice and quality
· Very difficult negotiations with the Ministry as they consistently attempt to further drive down pricing, particularly for people who have the most complex needs
· The prospect of the Ministry rationing access to services through extended waiting lists, fewer support hours, less flexibility and delays around new initiatives
“Meanwhile, there is still no coherent strategy from the Ministry for managing increasing demand or a pathway to sustainable funding in the future.
“This election, it’s time for political parties to show leadership on disability issues and front up with the funding to sustain and improve services for disabled people,” says Dr Bennie.