Ministers’ group to oversee disability policy

  • Paula Bennett
Disability Issues

A new ministerial oversight committee will ensure the Government's multi-billion dollar annual disability spend is meeting the needs of disabled people fairly and effectively, Disability Issues Minister Paula Bennett said today.

"The Ministerial Committee on Disability Issues will provide coherent overall direction for disability issues across government," Ms Bennett said.

"Currently, no group oversees the Government's substantial disability spending channelled through several agencies. This committee will ensure that disability support works well for disabled people, is distributed fairly, and represents value for money.

"One in five New Zealanders has some form of disability, and that number is expected to grow by 60 per cent over the next 40 years. Disabled people should be able to use government services as easily as anyone else, as well has having access to specific disability-related services.

"Decisions on disability services have tended to be based on heath and welfare considerations, without regard to other issues. It may be more cost-effective to build the needs of disabled people into planning stages, rather than retro-fitting later at considerable cost.

"One of the committee's first tasks will be to look at disability services provision with a view to giving disabled people greater choice and control over the supports they receive and the lives they lead," Ms Bennett said.

The committee is part of the Government's response to last year's Social Services Select Committee enquiry into the quality of supports and services for people with disabilities.

Ms Bennett will Chair the Committee. Other members are the Ministers of Finance, Justice, Health, Education and Transport; the Associate Minister of Education; and the Associate Minister of Disability Issues. Other ministers will be invited to provide input to the committee from time to time. The Committee will be supported by the Office of Disability Issues, based in the Ministry of Social Development.