Mother says disability cuts are ‘devastating’

Amy Taylor says sudden government changes to disability funding have left those impacted feeling...
Amy Taylor says sudden government changes to disability funding have left those impacted feeling undermined. PHOTO: LINDA ROBERTSON
A Mosgiel mother of two children with disabilities says she is devastated by "cuts to an already threadbare funding system".

Dr Amy Taylor said disability funding was not sufficient to begin with — she herself had never received government support despite being a wheelchair user.

This follows the Ministry of Disabled People’s announcement of funding changes on Monday, including new limits on what disabled people could purchase, and changes to the way equipment was prioritized.

Dr Taylor, who works for the Disabled Persons Assembly in an administrative capacity, said the change came out of the blue with no consultation, and were cuts to a threadbare system.

"It’s devastating.

"I think everybody is really feeling undermined.

"Basically there was never a generous provision for disabled people at all, and now they have decided to give us less with no justification other than they can't manage their budget."

She had two children who had severe ADHD and were both on a waiting list to receive carer support.

Her condition meant she was unable to walk more than a few steps, and parenting as a disabled person was not easy.

It was not yet clear exactly how the change would impact her family, and Dr Taylor said there may still be some support available, but not as much as expected.

"I don't know how we're supposed to live full lives.

"My children deserve to go to birthday parties, they deserve to go to the mall, all the things that normal little kiddies do, they deserve to be able to do it too.

"Without having somebody help me, and being able to pay that person a fair wage to help me, I don't know how I'm supposed to make it work."

Taieri Labour MP Ingrid Leary said she had been inundated with messages from disabled people and their carers.

"The sudden change to the criteria is nothing but a cut to services which are essential for the well-being of members of the community," she said.

Those who looked after loved ones often did heavy lifting and experienced sleep deprivation, and needed respite, physio and other services to support them — to imply they were living the high life at the expense of taxpayers was insulting.

A statement on the ministry’s website said it was not reducing funding but was clarifying what disabled people could purchase.

The ministry also said it would be prioritising equipment and modification services according to who needed them the most.

Disability Issues Minister Penny Simmonds said funding for disability support services had "blown out" under the previous government, shifting from no flexibility to "total flexibility".

"What we are saying is prioritise the funding for people with disabilities," she said on Tuesday.

"Some of the funding has been going to carers — that has to be pulled back and prioritized to the disabled person."