Latest News

Clarification on Purchasing Rules from Whaikaha – Ministry of Disabled People

April 30, 2024 | Advocacy, Funding, Life with MS

On Monday 18 March 2024, Whaikaha – Ministry of Disabled People, announced changes to the purchasing rules for Carer Support, Individualised Funding, Enhanced Individualised Funding, personal budgets, and Choices in Community Living.

On 24 April, following significant feedback from the Disability and Carers communities, Whaikaha has made amendments and changes to the purchasing rules and clarified changes and some of the uncertainties. These relate to purchasing rules for support services, equipment and modifications.

We recommend you visit the Whaikaha website and the information outlined below:

The new Minister for Disability Issues, Louise Upston has announced today, 30th April, that there will be a review into disability support services funded by Whaikaha following the recent events and changes. We will endeavour to keep you informed as we hear more how this progresses and whether this means further changes will be made.

New minister announces review into disability support services funded by Whaikaha | RNZ News


What do the recent changes mean?

DSS funding is government funding provided through Whaikaha – Ministry of Disabled People. The information below aims to help clarify what can and cannot be funded with Disability Support Services (DSS) funding.

These changes do not mean a reduction in DSS funded supports and services allocated to disabled people, however, it does change what can be purchased.


Who is impacted by the changes?
People who receive Carer Support, Individualised Funding (IF), Enhanced Individualised Funding (EIF), personal budgets, and Choices in Community Living (CiCL) through Whaikaha – Ministry for Disabled People.

If you are receiving funded support through Te Whatu Ora – Health NZ, the changes made on the 18 March and subsequent do not apply.
Changes also impact people who need equipment and modifications: Equipment and Modification Services | Whaikaha – Ministry of Disabled People


What is Carer Support? 

Carer Support is a subsidy that can be used to provide the full-time carer a break from their caring role.  It provides reimbursement for some of the costs of care and support for a disabled person while you have a break.  Your local NASC allocates the Carer Support subsidy.  The NASC allocate Carer Support in days, and a $80 amount is allocated to each day. This total allocation can then be treated as a whole budget for the year.


What is IF?  

Individualised Funding, Enhanced Individualised Funding (EIF) or personal budgets which allow more flexible use of Disability Support Services (DSS) funding.  This group of options is sometimes referred to as flexible funding.

Flying Kites is currently holding a series of information webinars about IF. You can watch the recordings and sign up to the upcoming events here: Event Series: Making Sense of the System – Flying Kites

The webinars cover key topics of:

  • Navigating the Disability System
  • Clarifying the Basics of IF
  • Finding Great Staff
  • Preparing for a Needs Assessment
  • Planning for the Future


Equipment and Modification Service (EMS) 

Whaikaha – Ministry of Disabled People’s Equipment and Modification Services (EMS) provide free or subsidised equipment and modifications to disabled people.

EMS cover:

  • Equipment
  • Housing modifications.
  • Vehicle purchase and modifications.

Exclusions are now in effect for items that support the disabled person to carry out tasks more independently if these items are already provided for or managed under EMS.   Please go to What people can buy with Disability Funding: Purchasing Rules | Whaikaha – Ministry of Disabled People for more information.


What can be funded? 

You can use your Carer Support / IF – Respite for activities and breaks such as:

  • Items that support the disabled person to carry out tasks more independently are generally available through IF, Individualised Funding Home Management (IF HM), Individualised Funding Personal Care (IF PC), EIF, CiCL, and personal budgets, except when these items are already provided for or managed under EMS.
  • Commitments made with a service or person prior to 18 March 2024 can be continued so a disabled person can maintain their current employment, participation in a course of study, therapy, or a timebound programme.
  • Therapies in place before 18 March 2024, including (but not limited to) Speech Language therapy, psychologist involvement in behaviour support and occupational therapy.  A new course of therapy cannot be funded. Therapy that can be funded by another government department is not included.
  • Some forms of therapy can also have respite aspects and can be funded from IF, EIF and personal budgets. These include equine, art, and music therapy.
  • Transport such as driving services and rideshare costs (even if the disabled person has used Total Mobility Services).  Driving and rideshares can be used when it is more cost effective than support workers’ time to drive a disabled person.
  • Community-based and run respite programmes.
  • After school, holiday programmes and youth programmes, which directly benefit disabled people.
  • Costs to cover support workers and family carers, including entry fees for recreational activities or events.  Please note, the disabled person and any other companions or family members are expected to meet their own costs.
  • Items that support the disabled person to self-regulate. Disability specific apps and software for a tablet that help a person self-manage can also be purchased. These items can only be purchased once in any 12-month period.

You cannot use Carer Support / IF – Respite funding for:

  • Overseas or domestic travel.
  • Accommodation
  • Food and meals out, takeaway meals.
  • Exercise and recreational equipment.
  • Beauty or therapeutic treatments to have a break.
  • Koha and gifts.
  • Private services when funding for support has been declined by (or on behalf of) the responsible government agency, or if waiting times are too long.
  • Support during school hours when a child is not attending school fulltime.
  • Supplementing some day programme costs.
  • Purchasing larger items such as spa pools, trampolines or play gyms.
  • Therapies paid for by other government departments.
  • Illegal activities, gambling, alcohol or to pay for things that are not disability supports like rent / mortgage, food, personal debt, gifts, power, regular household items etc.


How do I know something will be eligible for funding?

In the first instance you are recommended to speak to your IF Host. Additional training has been provided by Whaikaha for IF Hosts and NASCs and pathways set up for them to seek clarification.

There are four rules that determine how you can use your funding. These rules are the same for Carer Support and for Individualised Funding (IF), Enhanced Individualised Funding (EIF), Choice in Community Living or Enabling Good Lives (EGL) Personal Budgets.

Here are the rules, a brief explanation, and some helpful questions to ask yourself when you are considering the rules in relation to a purchase.

  • Rule one: It helps you live your life or makes your life better

Your funding is individually allocated to you for a specific purpose which was discussed with you by your Needs Assessment Service Coordinator (NASC) or Enabling Good Lives (EGL) team.

Q: Does this purchase relate to the purpose of your funding?

  • Rule two: It is a disability support

The purchase must be specific to your disability, meaning you would not need the item or support if you did not have your disability.

Q: Is this purchase specific to my disability?

  • Rule three: It is reasonable and cost effective.

The purchase is cost effective, reasonable and fits within your budget. This doesn’t always mean the cheapest option. Cost effective means the purchase will give you a good outcome without costing a lot of money.

Q: Thinking about your total budget, does this purchase make good use of the allocation on something that will make a lasting impact?

  • Rule four: It is not subject to a limit or exclusion

What we mean is that the purchase fits within your allocated funding. In other words, you can afford it under your budget, it’s legal, it is not funded somewhere else, for example, like a grant or other government funding, and it stays within good employment practices (where to get help with employing people is explained below).

Q: Is this the best way to fund this purchase?

For further information visit Purchasing Guidance | Whaikaha – Ministry of Disabled People or contact Whaikaha:


I’m not currently receiving funded support through Whaikaha support, but should I?

If you are not currently receiving Carer Support, Individualised Funding (IF), Enhanced Individualised Funding (EIF), personal budgets, and Choices in Community Living (CiCL) speak to your MS Community Advisor and ask for a referral to your local NASCs. They will make an assessment about if and what you may be eligible for.


For more information  

For further information please contact Whaikaha:

If you have queries about Carer Support, please contact the Carer Support team by emailing or phone 0800 855 066.

If you are using Individualised Funding or Enhanced Individualised Funding, please contact your IF Host. You can also contact your local NASC. NASC and IF Hosts have been provided with further information from Whaikaha. If there is a question around what your funding can be used for we recommend you raise this with your IF Host who can raise this through the central Whaikaha channels.


Are the changes impacting you?

We have been hearing from people in the community about how the reduction in flexibility and the confusion is having an impact on their lives. If these changes are impacting on yours, your carers and your families’ lives, please do notify your Community Advisor at your local MS Society who can report this back to MSNZ, or you are welcome to contact us directly so we can raise these with the Ministry Contact Us Here.