New $24 million pilot scheme launched for disability support

People with disabilities and their families will be given access to a personal budget provided by the Government, in a trial scheme being launched at MidCentral DHB in the North Island.

The Government says the nearly $24 million being set aside for the scheme will give disabled people more options to decide what they need to support the lives they want.

There are 1600 people living with disabilities in the mid-central region. New, personal budgets will mean they get to choose what services they want.

"This is what the disabled community has been calling out for, this fundamental shift in power and giving power and choice back to disabled people," disability campaigner Rachel Burt told Newshub.

It will also give access to people called 'Connectors', who will help disabled people identify what services they want and need.

Peter Allen told Newshub it will make life easier for people like him.

"My eyesight's that bad that I can't recognise your face, I can't read and there's a whole lot of issues around my vision," he said.

It's based on a programme called Enabling Good Lives in Waikato.

"Parents with young children who were opting to use funding for swimming lessons for their disabled child, things like a zoo pass," said disability issues minister Carmel Sepuloni.

The new support system is being trialled in Palmerton North, Horowhenua, Manawatu, Otaki and Tararua and will fund 1600 people for two years at a cost of $23.8 million.

"The personal budgets will vary greatly depending on people's needs," associate minister of health Julie Anne Genter told Newshub.

The Government says it will make it easier to access support.

"People can make decisions that are best for their own lives," Ms Burt said.

The changes come into effect in October 2018.