New proposed disability tax: can it be abused?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

One of the founders of the Mad as Hell campaign, Sue O'Reilly, has defended the organisation's push for an added levy to help people with disabilities, saying it gave them more choice.

O'Reilly said the call for individualised, self-directed funding as part of the campaign does not mean that large lump sums of taxpayers' money would be handed over to people without any control over how and on what that money was spent.

"Individualised funding means that those people with disabilities who meet the eligibility criteria for funding under any future National Disability Insurance Scheme [NDIS] would be allocated a certain amount of money, according to their own particular long-term support needs," she said.

She said it would be for the purchase of basic equipment and services such as wheelchairs, hoists, shower chairs, respite, therapy, educational and employment support services.

"It's envisaged it would be held in trust — by some form of new government agency yet to be established — to be released only as and when people with disabilities and/or their families required such basic equipment and services, but vitally, to the equipment and service providers of each individual's choice," O'Reilly said.

O'Reilly said the Productivity Commission is determining how the NDIS or similar scheme would work and it was possible that vouchers could be issued in place of cash, or the payment would be made directly to the providers of basic equipment and services.

"The big difference with the current system however is that block grant government funding would no longer be provided direct to service and equipment providers to then doled out to people with disabilities and/or their families on a 'take it or leave it, if you can get it' basis," O'Reilly said.

"Instead, individuals would get to have a major say in future as to where they wished funding specifically allocated for their benefit be directed. This would radically improve the current situation by ensuring that people had far, far more consumer power and control over the quality, nature and type of services."

She said the proposed system is commonplace overseas and resulted in a higher quality of service and delivery at a lower cost because of less red tape.

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