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Posted by Philip on 2 May 2014, 12:49 pm in , , , , , ,

Social Development Ministry policy contradictions threaten employment for people with disabilities

@If you are concerned about this issue please copy, revise as necessary and email this letter to
felicity.cuzens@parliament.govt.nz

Hon Paula Bennett
Parliament Buildings
Wellington

Dear Minister

I am writing about my concerns that there is a contradiction in policy between the new Jobseeker approach of Work and Income, and the criteria for Job Support funding (which is managed by Workbridge). This conflict is affecting the employment of people experiencing disability.

In recent months I have come to know of two people who have been turned down for Job Support funding. Both have been turned down on technicalities, which are related to the inflexibility of the application of Job Support criteria. Both people, as a result, have had their ongoing employment put at risk and both are extraordinarily talented in their professions.

I know of several other similar circumstances and I am desperately concerned that on one hand MSD is asking disabled people to work and, on the other, it is denying the support they need to stay in employment.

I would like to ask two things of you:

1. That, with the permission of the two people, I provide you details of their specific circumstances and you authorise the decisions to be reviewed in a more flexible way; and

2. That you make an overall review of the eligibility criteria, assessment and amount of funding available for Job Support an urgent priority. (I understand work has begun but I would ask you to have it fast-tracked.)

Employment statistics for disabled people are devastatingly low and the opportunity cost of this is estimated to be over $11b (Be. Accessible, 2014). It seems to me that this is exacerbated by support funding decisions that do not reflect the increasing value of technology and the changing employment situations of people with access and support needs.

I strongly appeal to you to consider my two requests and to reply at your earliest convenience.

(By the way, we did meet years ago at the Attitude Awards when you were Minister for Disability Issues. I spoke about reframing disability as "functional diversity" and "unique function" and we discussed changing your title to Minister for Functional Diversity. You were quite keen on the idea!)

Yours faithfully

PHILIP PATSTON

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