Whaikaha boss was aware Ministry of Disabled People was $65m over budget

The boss of Whaikaha has told Newshub she was aware the Ministry of Disabled People was over budget to the tune of $65 million.

The revelation comes after the announcement of serious belt-tightening on disability support, causing anger and protest.

The Christchurch disabled community had a simple request - that the government ask them about life-changing decisions.

"The way in which the ministry managed this fell well short of my expectations and I'm really committed to putting that right," said Whaikaha CEO Paula Tesoriero.

With no notice or consultation the Ministry for Disabled People - Whaikaha, restricted access to funding for disability support.

"The most important thing about the flexibility is that the disabled people and the carers get to choose how to use those funds," one person told Newshub.

Whaikaha receives about $2.3b in funding, which supports about 150,000 disabled people. And of that, about $500m is used for flexible funding - that's what's been restricted.

That money supports about 33,000 people.

But the ministry was set to blow its whole budget by $65 million.

"The budget often exceeded what was given and that's because about 3000 new people access supports every year and there's no additional funding that comes with that," Tesoriero said.

The minister says the fund was far too flexible.

"Individualised funding has been used to purchase lotto tickets, alcohol and tobacco," Minister Penny Simmonds said in Parliament.

"I think the minister needs to talk to disabled people first to find out how the money is being spent," one member of the disabled community told Newshub.

"We've been seeing funding used for a range of things that people choose to spend that funding on, that we are not necessarily appropriated for," Tesoriero added to Newshub.

Finance Minister Nicola Willis has promised a significant uplift in funding for disability in this year's Budget.

"Use this opportunity to review the settings so we're going into next year with greater clarity that we can serve disabled people and their families really well," Tesoriero said.

The disabled community hoping this time they're kept informed of exactly what that might look like.