New Zealand Law Society - Ombudsman finds reduction of family care funding unreasonable

Ombudsman finds reduction of family care funding unreasonable

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Ombudsman Leo Donnelly has found a Ministry of Health decision to reduce funded family care for Cliff Robinson was unreasonable.

Mr Donnelly has released an opinion after investigating a complaint which arose from the ministry's decision on 21 May 2014 to decline Mr Robinson's request for additional hours of Family funded Care and to reduce his current allocation from 40 hours per week to 29.5 hours per week.

Mr Robinson was a plaintiff in the Atkinson v Ministry of Health case ([2012] NZCA 184) which gave the right to parents of intellectually disabled children to be paid for the care of their children. He provides care to two disabled adult children.

Mr Donnelly says following its consideration of his provisional opinion, the ministry acknowledged that Mr Robinson would have had a reasonable expectation of payment of 40 hours of care after the hours had been increased, and that reliance by Mr Robinson would have been placed on that decision.

He says the ministry has undertaken to reinstate, from 1 November 2016, the 40 hours of paid care for Mr Robinson to care for his son John, as a discretionary exception to the policy.

The ministry has also undertaken to clarify, in the Terms of Reference for the Individual Review Panel, the ability of complainants to submit information to support their complaints, and to include in those Terms of Reference, the requirement that the Panel must first reach a provisional view. If that view does not uphold the complaint, it must give the complainant the opportunity to comment before making a final decision.