Caregiving parents and partners of disabled people to be paid

(Article from stuff.co.nz) The Government is set to inject $32 million into paying parents and partners to care for people with high support needs and is scrapping an unusual employment situation those people are in.

John Forman has two adult children with a rare degenerative genetic condition. His severely disabled  daughter lives at home and, under current laws, is his employer. The new law will change that.

There were currently about 600 family carers already receiving financial support and Government estimated about 640 more would be eligible under the new rules. Pay rates will also be improved.

Forman was already getting funding but said the current system, which is being changed, was punitive and insulting. The big beneficiaries of the change would be those with no other revenue source or on a benefit.

“There have been some significant improvements,” Forman said of government policies during his children’s lives.

“But this one [Part 4A of the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Act 2000, which is being repealed] has been a major road block for many, many years.”

The law changes, announced on Sunday, remove the requirement for an “employment relationship between a disabled person and their family member”.

Associate Minister of Health Julie-Ann Genter said the Government would be considering “alternative options” for the employment arrangement, which did not place “unreasonable expectations on disabled people, their family or whānau”.

“We are committed to getting this change through as swiftly as we can, while also avoiding the process which created the current legislation.”

Pay for carers would rise from $17.70 an hour, the minimum wage, to between $20.50 and $25.50 an hour based on qualifications and experience.

The government is boosting the amount paid to people who look after disabled adult children, and also widening the scope of the scheme.

The previous National government had introduced the legislation under urgency, and the current Government had indicated it would repeal it.

“I want to acknowledge families and whānau who provide this important and sometimes challenging care for their loved ones,” Genter said.

The changes were expected to take effect sometime in 2020, after a select committee process, and required a repeal of Section 4A of the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Act 2000.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, at the announcement at Premier House alongside Associate Minister of Health Jenny Salesa and Genter, said the government had heard “loud and clear” from families with disabled members about the need to change Funded Family Care.

“Today progresses a more compassionate government that addresses the needs of stretched parents and partners.”

She acknowledged families and whānau who provided this “important and sometimes challenging care” for their loved ones

“Repealing Part 4A will restore people’s human rights to be involved in decision making, and have the right to complain about policies that affect them and their families.”

Budget 2019 had allocated $32 million in contingency to facilitate the changes.

The current living wage rate for 2019 is $21.15.

 

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