It has been three years since the Government launched its $92 million Funded Family Care policy. Under the policy eligible adult disabled people are allocated Ministry of Health funding to employ certain family carers for the delivery of personal care and household management services. It was predicted to benefit around 1600 disabled adults.

From the very beginning, the New Zealand Carers Alliance described the scheme as “flawed and unfair” saying it would pit disabled people against their closest loved ones, by introducing an employer dimension into family relationships.

Another criticism was that the policy would see only the most highly disabled to qualify, but in order to get the funding they must do very many things that would be automatically outside of the capabilities of the severely disabled, such as understanding employer obligations.

Carers NZ is relieved to note that all three coalition partners in the new Government agreed before the election that Funded Family Care needs to be improved.

“FFC is now more than three years old and when it was launched we said ‘it’s not right, it’s not fair, and it won’t work’. We’ve wasted no time contacting key Ministers asking them to follow through on pre-election promises to review and make the payment better and fairer for carers.”

Various counter-solutions have been proposed in the past. Some have suggested family carers should be paid directly by the Government as independent contractors. Others have suggested a broad social insurance scheme that we all contribute to, and are beneficiaries of if we or someone we care about has significant ongoing support needs.

So it is a case of ‘watch this space’ to see if the new Government will make any changes to this contentious policy.

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