Faster ACC payment top-ups and fairer system
The Government is making sure those on low incomes will no longer have to wait five weeks to get the minimum weekly rate of ACC, and improving the data collected to make the system fairer, Minister for ACC Peeni Henare said today.
The Accident Compensation (Access Reporting and Other Matters) Amendment Bill, which passed through its final stages in Parliament tonight, means people will now be able to access the minimum rate of compensation earlier – from the second week of injury instead of having to wait until the sixth week.
“Injured people on low incomes often find themselves in financial hardship when they are not able to work, and having to wait until the sixth week to be topped up to the minimum rate of ACC weekly compensation can be really tough,” Peeni Henare said.
The Bill brings eligibility for the minimum rate forward, by removing the delay in the top-up ensuring people receive it as soon as they are eligible for the weekly compensation. This allows them to better focus on their rehabilitation.
People whose incomes mean they already receive compensation at or above the minimum rate will not be affected.
“It is estimated to benefit up to 10,000 people and help them continue to support themselves and their whānau with the cost of living while they are injured.
“This will reverse one more of the damaging changes made by the previous National Government, which disadvantaged thousands of New Zealand workers. I’m really proud to see this Bill through tonight.
“The Bill also delivers on Labour’s 2020 election commitment to return ACC to its original purpose of assisting all New Zealanders who have had an injury.
“Access to ACC is not the same for everyone in New Zealand and there is a lack of data to explain why this is. For example, we don’t know why, despite making up about 16 per cent of the population, Māori accounted for just 12 per cent of new accepted claims in 2020.
“We know that some groups are accessing and benefiting less from ACC than others, but we do not have good insight into why, or the drivers of these disparities.
“The Bill will ensure that when ACC reports on access, it looks both at people with eligible injuries who have not yet made an ACC claim, as well as claimants.
“We want to remove barriers to ACC, so ensuring we have good information about how we can do that is where we need to begin,” Peeni Henare said.
The changes to data reporting come in immediately after the passing of the bill, with the first report due after 30 June 2024, while the reduced eligibility for a minimum rate of ACC will be in place from later this year.
- In 2010, the previous Government made changes to ACC to try to lower scheme costs by restricting access to cover and entitlements. Bringing forward eligibility for the minimum rate of weekly compensation reverses one of these changes. Others were addressed in the Accident Compensation (Maternal Birth Injury and Other Matters) Amendment Act 2022.
- The financial impact of bringing forward eligibility for the minimum rate is expected to be minimal given the size of the AC Scheme. ACC’s estimated figures suggest that this change could benefit 10,000 people, and cost around $4 million each year.
- Making the new access reporting requirement a legislative change will provide greater certainty that ACC is maintaining a longer-term focus on disparities in access. This may not be achieved with the current performance management framework for ACC, as different ministers and boards change their focus.
- Existing reports done by ACC typically do not include analysis of underlying population injury trends or the reasons behind disparities in access to the Scheme.