Government to deliver family carers $2000 pay rise, expand scheme to spouses this year

  • Hon Jenny Salesa

The Coalition Government is delivering this year the changes to Funded Family Care the disability sector has long-asked for, says Associate Minister of Health Jenny Salesa.

“Today we are announcing the details of our big changes to Funded Family Care, including an annual average pay boost of $2,246.40 for funded family carers. The Government will also introduce higher rates for qualified family carers; expand eligibility for the scheme to include spouses and parents of young children with high or very-high needs; and finally remove the requirement for an employment relationship between family members where families don’t want it.”

“Caring for family members such as a spouse or child is one of the most valuable contributions someone can make in our society, especially when that work requires giving up things like paid employment. Our Government has listened to the concerns of family carers about the limits of the current scheme and we have committed to making it fairer,”

Under the reforms, the Government will:

  • expand carer eligibility to spouses and partners, so they are able to be paid to provide care to people with high or very-high disability support needs;
  • expand carer eligibility to 16-18 year old family members, so they are able to be paid to provide care to people with high or very-high disability support needs;
  • expand client eligibility to include under 18 year olds with high or very-high disability- support needs;
  • remove the current requirement for an employment relationship to exist between a disabled person and their resident family member in order to receive FFC;
  • repeal Part 4A of the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Act 2000, which currently prevents New Zealanders from taking claims on the basis of unlawful discrimination to the Human Rights Commission or before the courts;
  • lift pay rates for family carers from the minimum wage to $20.50-$25.50 per hour from 14 April 2020.

“Family carers will see their pay rates lifted from the current minimum wage to new rates, starting at $20.50 and going up to $25.50, depending on a carer’s qualifications,”

“If a family carer is funded for the average 27 hours per week on the new $20.50 minimum, this change represents a 8.47% pay rise above the minimum wage, or about $2,200 more than they would have got,”

“For family carers funded for 40 hours per week, these reforms mean at least $3,328 more per year,”

“Lifting the Government’s contribution is an important step in the right direction in acknowledging the important work family carers do,”

The new rates align family carers’ pay with those carers employed by formal providers as implemented through the recent care and support workers’ pay equity settlement.

“This is a wage-lifting Government. By the end of our first term we would have lifted the national minimum wage by $126 per week for full time workers, we’ve begun implementing the living wage across the state sector, and we are delivering a major pay boost to family carers,”

“Improving Funded Family Care with these reforms is also about building a more equitable health system. We know that Māori and Pacific families make greater use of Funded Family Care than other New Zealanders. These changes are about fairness, because carers would be paid these rates if their loved ones with high and very-high needs went through formal providers.”

“We know there has been frustration in the disability community with the very limited scheme introduced under the last Government, and that’s why we have been working with the sector to make Funded Family Care fairer and better for families,”

“In particular, people were very concerned that they were prevented from making discrimination claims on the basis of family status. By restoring the right to make discrimination claims in repealing Part 4A of the Public Health and Disability Act, we are showing we’re serious about treating family carers with the respect they deserve. This is an important symbolic change for the disability and carers’ communities and I acknowledge their ongoing advocacy,” says Jenny Salesa.

Key dates:
Legislation set to be introduced to Parliament repealing Part 4A: 21 January 2020
First reading expected: February 2020
Ministry of Health FFC eligibility expanded: 14 April 2020
New pay rates take effect, with all carers lifted to at least $20.50: 14 April 2020
DHB FFC eligibility expanded: End of June 2020
Part 4A Repealed: 1 September 2020