INDEPENDENT NEWS

Govt breaks another promise

Published: Mon 9 Nov 2009 01:38 PM
9 November 2009
Media Statement
Govt breaks another promise
The Government’s plan to cut mileage payments for ACC carers is another short-sighted move which will hit already low-paid workers hard and could end up costing the taxpayer more, says Labour’s ACC spokesperson David Parker.
“The decision will particularly hurt rural and provincial areas and flies in the face of previous promises by National, which has campaigned on decent mileage rates for home care staff, claiming it is a false economy to short-change them because the alternative costs of rest home and hospital care are much higher.
“The PSA reported today that travel expenses will in future only be reimbursed for mileage over 20 kilometres and carers will have to pay for the first 20 kilometres themselves,” David Parker says.
“Until now the full cost of any travel over 20 kilometres was reimbursed. This will significantly reduce the income of already low-paid and hard-working carers and will put further pressure on these workers, which are already difficult to recruit.
“As National itself has previously pointed out, carer shortages have the inevitable result of forcing people into residential and hospital care, which many disabled or injured New Zealanders would prefer to avoid – and which will cost the taxpayer and individuals much more.
“The hypocrisy of National’s u-turn on this issue is compounded by the fact it has consistently promised to support frontline workers, which these workers clearly are,” says David Parker.
“ACC is reported today trying to claim that this change will put home carers paid by ACC on the same playing field as other workers, yet National has previously claimed changes were needed to ensure home carers were paid the same mileage rates as other employees.
“Home carers ordinarily travel between a number of households. Tradespeople services to residential homes (eg: plumbers, electricians) ordinarily charge for the cost of travel between houses. District nurses are paid to travel between homes – for time and mileage.
“This is just another example of the death by a thousand cuts approach National is taking to New Zealand’s world-leading ACC Scheme, which is being undermined by the day.
“Not only could disabled and injured New Zealanders now find it even harder to find home carers, they will also be hit by ACC’s plan to reduce spending on home and vehicle modifications by at least 20 per cent – another short-sighted decision which could also force people into residential care or hospitals. Where will it end?”
ENDS

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