July 1st is fast approaching – and for people with disabilities using Individualised Funding (IF) things could be about to get quite interesting.
The Care and Support Workers Pay Equity settlement got its first reading in Parliament last week, but some of the major concerns surrounding how people and families will fund the impending pay increases still remain.
Labour MP Iain Lees-Galloway spoke in Parliament on Wednesday afternoon as the bill went into its first reading.
Lees-Galloway spoke of a woman with over 20-years worth of experience working as a care worker and hailed the Government for its decision to meet with the Care Workers Union.
“I want to congratulate the Government for getting around the table, but they were forced to do so because if they didn’t then the court settlement was going to result in a much greater exercise”, Less-Galloway said.
“The model of the Government getting around the table and admitting that they have a really bad problem is an incredibly good one, and it sets a wonderful precedent”, Lees-Galloway added.
Pay Equity was signed off by Government on May 1st after Kristine Bartlett, a care worker from Wellington, took the case to the highest levels and had hundreds of people rally round her. But at that point it seemed like the deal was primarily for care workers in the Aged Care sector.
From July 1st – every care worker across all sectors will think they are eligible for the big pay rise.
Union members say that the Government will have no choice but to increase the funding levels of individual packages, but there is a big possibility that it won’t happen. If it doesn’t, people may be forced to drop crucial support hours in order to be able to afford pay increases for individual care workers. The Ministry of Health held an emergency series of meetings last week to address this very issue.
Budget 2017 has thrown an additional spanner into the works as well. According to the Minister for Disability Issues, the total financial cost for Pay Equity is $1.54billion and not the $2billion originally promised. That’s a quarter of a decrease from the first plan but it does fall under the total health budget increase.