Fuseworks Media

Proposed benefit changes will ‘batter’ New Zealand families living with intellectual disability

IHC Director of Advocacy, Tania Thomas, says the Government is making decisions about benefits on the fly and not on evidence, which is putting intellectually disabled New Zealanders at serious risk.

“Indexing benefit increases to inflation and not wages, increasing sanctions and reintroducing the unproven 90-day trial period will severely disadvantage intellectually disabled people for whom there are disproportionately high barriers to either full time or part time work.

“It will have the same negative effect on people, particularly parents, who are not able to work because they are caregivers for intellectually disabled offspring.”

Tania Thomas says the government should be increasing the child disability allowance by 300% (from $56-$168) and not cutting the income of disabled people.

“We are calling for the government to use the recently released IHC-funded report, “From Data to Dignity” to better understand the living situations of people with intellectual disabilities including individual and household income, and material well-being of the household.

The “From Data to Dignity” uses income data collected by the government and tells a grim story for children with intellectual disability:

  • 24% of children with an intellectual disability live in the most deprived areas in New Zealand compared to 15% of the general child population
  • 44% of Pacific children and 35% of Māori children with an intellectual disability live in the most deprived areas in New Zealand
  • 1 in 5 children with an intellectual disability live in a crowded home. 53% of Pacific children with an intellectual disability live in a mouldy home

The report also clearly points to the barriers intellectually disabled work seekers face if they are going to move off benefits and into work:

  • 57% of intellectually disabled adults have no qualifications – so they have not completed NCEA level 1 or equivalent. This compares to 12% of the general population. What is the Minister going to do to increase the rate of qualifications for people with intellectual disabilities?
  • 74% of families with an intellectually disabled child have only one parent working compared to 63% of families in the general population. IHC knows this is because our compulsory education system is not inclusive so students with an intellectual disability often need one parent to stop paid work to support their child at school. What will National do about this?
  • 21% of intellectually disabled people have some form of paid employment versus 78% in the general population. What plans does the Minister have to improve this?
  • 39% of the intellectually disabled youth population aged 15 – 24 are Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET) versus 13% of the general population in the same age group. This statistic is shocking when you consider that many intellectually disabled people stay in high school until they are 21 years old. What plans does the Minister have to improve this?

 

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