Disabled community gets funding lifeline - but restrictions won't be lifted

The disabled community has been thrown a funding lifeline - but it won't mean the controversial restrictions announced last week will be lifted.

Meanwhile, in an extraordinary move, Cabinet has ordered it will now sign off on the Ministry for Disabled People - Whaikaha's major funding decisions.

Rebecca Graham feels it in her body when she watches her daughter have seizures.

"It's terrifying. It's just absolutely horrifying," she told Newshub.

Massages helped immensely.

"It released all that tension that you're holding in your body. It's not a lot of money, it's $80 bucks," she said.

She's frustrated at the Disability Issues minister's reasoning for restricting funding last week after Penny Simmonds claimed it had been used for massages, overseas travel, and pedicures.

We asked the minister's office for evidence about this claim. Her office said they didn't have any numbers but the minister had heard it anecdotally

The minister began today ducking away from reporters before fronting for a double down.

"They have to put funding guidelines in place to manage the sustainability of a very large fund of public money," she said.

But Graham asked how could you think that about carers.

"How can you think that we're being careless and disreputable in looking after our wellbeing?" Graham asked.

After blindsiding the disabled community with changes last week, the minister and her ministry, Whaikaha, have both had their ability to make major decisions taken off them and given to Cabinet.

"What we want to make sure is any serious major change to frontline services does come before Cabinet. In this case it didn't," Prime Minister Christopher Luxon said.

"It was poorly consulted and poorly communicated. And it's right that she apologised for it for the ministry."

Labour leader Chris Hipkins said: "It's an extraordinary step to take basically saying a minister's not able to make decisions in their own portfolio. It's a massive vote of no confidence in Penny Simmonds."

"I think she's doing a great job," Luxon said.

Cabinet has also agreed to give the struggling agency more money in a pre-Budget commitment.

We don't know how much the top-up is but it won't mean restrictions are lifted.

"No they won't be because even with the additional funding there is still a real risk of them running out of funding," Simmonds said.

After repeated requests, we finally had an interview scheduled with Whaikaha's chief executive on Friday.

But 10 minutes before, it was cancelled. We were told because of urgent meetings. It hasn't been rescheduled.

That evening it released a video.

"We know that the way in which we went about announcing these changes caused stress and anxiety and for that I am sorry," CEO Paula Tesoriero said.

An apology that could have been easily avoided.