This is the second of a series of blogs from the Disabled Persons Assembly (DPA). We have used DPA’s strategic areas of focus, as identified by our members, as a guide to examine key areas of each party’s policies. We have then asked questions that we would like answered from political parties.
Disabled people report wanting to work, but are less likely to be employed than others, and are on average on a lower wage, sometimes below minimum wage. Barriers to work include limited accessibility of buildings, transport, information, communication, and employers’ perceptions of costs, and not recognising employee’s capabilities including meeting the needs of the diversity of potential customers.
What will your party do to ensure disabled people have increased opportunities and no barriers to getting a job and developing a career?
Would you support broad accessibility legislation to enable increased employment of disabled people?
Would your party invest more in disabled people, recognising there are huge gains for employers and the economy as a whole if barriers to participation were removed?
Our comparative assessment: the recently released statistics from government state disabled people are more than twice as likely to be unemployed as others, and a third as likely to be employed. Initial evaluation of social investment found disabled people were not getting off benefits and into work. Access legislation to aid employment is supported by Labour, Greens, Maori Party, and possibly NZ First. National established Project 300, initially in Christchurch, where more than 500 people found training or employment, and this will be rolled out beyond Christchurch. Apart from this, commitments and targets are not strong across political parties.
Many disabled people and their families have additional costs that are not met and have time commitments that reduce opportunities to earn. Disabled people spend longer times on a benefit, sometimes a lifetime. Many do not receive what they may be entitled to. Sometimes people are forced to make hard choices, for example between food and going to the doctor.
What will your party do to ensure disabled people, including families with disabled children, have an adequate standard of living and do not live in poverty?
Our comparative assessment: This week’s news is disabled people earn on average half as much as others. “Love has consequences”, said a National candidate to a disability forum defending benefit reductions to disabled partners with ongoing high disability-related costs. Lack of love might have consequences at the ballot box for less lovable parties. NZ First has the best track record on leading the debate on superannuation and older disabled people’s income. Mana and Green are strongest on ending poverty.