News » ACC Changes – the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Press Release – 14 October 2009:   Dr Smith, Minister for ACC, has announced a raft of measures to assist in making the ACC scheme more sustainable. Changes include increasing levies and reversing the changes the Labour-led Government made to the scheme last year.

“We agree levies needed to be increased. It is something we considered necessary years ago. The Government has been running the ACC scheme on the cheap for far too long” says Mr Wadsworth, Head of Access Support Services, a privately-run advocacy service for ACC claimants. “However, in saying that, ACC has not exactly been competent in delivering comprehensive rehabilitation services to claimants.”

One of the most significant changes announced by Dr Smith is removing the requirement for ACC to take into account an injured workers pre-injury income when providing rehabilitation into other types of work. This, along with regarding 30 hours a week as fulltime work instead of 35 hours, will make exiting claimants from the scheme a whole lot easier for ACC and its third party administrators.

“The changes to vocational rehabilitation will make the ACC scheme unfair for injured workers” says Mr Wadsworth. “For example; a builder earning $60,000 p.a. who suffers an injury could lose their entitlement to weekly compensation if they can work 30 hours a week as a sales assistant on $12.50/hr”. That is inherently unfair no matter how you look at it.”

Access Support Services has consistently pointed out to ACC, the Government and media that there are systemic flaws in the way ACC rehabilitate injured workers. Unfortunately, the builder on $60,000 p.a. won’t realise just how little help they will get from ACC until they have a debilitating accident.

“The blame for poor rehabilitation rates lies with ACC and the Government”, says Mr Wadsworth. “However, beating up on the claimants now is no way to fix the problem, it just shifts it onto the taxpayer via social welfare. Some of the proposed changes to the scheme are good, some bad, but the changes to vocational rehabilitation is just plain ugly.”

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