A Christchurch man has denied funding the mobility van again
Usual means of transportation don’t always work well for Christchurch man Emmanuel Cox, 49, who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair to get around.
His latest attempt to get government support for a mobility van failed, after his old car broke down earlier this year, and Cox says a “rigid” funding system prevents people with disabilities from getting the equipment they need.
But a Department of Home Affairs spokeswoman says $44.3 million has been allocated to resource cost relief for people with disabilities over the past five years.
Koks received support in 2018 for the mobility van from Enable New Zealand, a government funder of disability equipment.
He received $12,165 for a car purchase and an additional $12,165 for modifications. But the total cost of the 2010 Renault Master with modifications came to $51,085.
Cox successfully applied to the State Lottery Grants Board for additional funding and the family received a loan to cover the rest of the costs.
However, the truck, which needed $4,000 in repairs in 2022, broke down earlier this year.
Koks applied to Enable New Zealand for financing for a new car but was rejected in February. The agency estimated that his disability circumstances had not changed significantly, and that the funding he received in 2018 was a “one-time contribution.”
The Whaikaha Ministry for People with Disabilities advised Koks at the time to reapply to the Lottery Grants Board.
But he revealed this week that he had been rejected by the grants board, in addition to not enough time having passed since he had previously received support.
“They had a six-year moratorium, and I’d only owned the truck for five years. So they basically said, ‘No, you have to wait.’
Cox said not being able to replace the mobility truck has negatively impacted his quality of life.
“We have another car, but it’s not really suitable, so that means when everyone gets out, my wife and I have to stay in.”
“It’s been difficult, I’m limited in where I can go.”
Cox said the government needs to make it easier for people with disabilities to obtain financing to purchase vehicles.
“Firstly, I think the lottery department should not be so strict about the cut-off period,” he said.
“If someone has a real breakdown in their car during this period, and it is beneficial to them and they are likely to be repairing it for many years to come, they should be willing to help them.”
The Lottery Grants Board is administered by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
“The Individuals with Disabilities Lottery Fund provides grants to people with disabilities to help them better access and connect more with their communities,” said Claire Toufexis, General Manager of Community Operations.
“Over the past five years, the Lottery Fund for Individuals with Disabilities has allocated $44.3 million in cost relief for resources needed to help reduce barriers to participation.”
The fund is significantly oversubscribed every year, Toufexis said.
“To ensure fair distribution and equal access, funding decisions are made by an independent distribution committee,” she said.
“Policies are put in place to help ensure objective decisions are made. For example, rules are established for granting or modifying vehicle purchases.
“Anyone who receives a grant to purchase a vehicle can only apply for finance for the same purpose after a period of six years. This is because the vehicles can reasonably be expected to last at least that long.”
Applicants who obtained car financing in 2018 will be eligible to apply for financing again in 2024, Tufeksis said.
Cox needs at least $72,000 to buy a new camper van, and he’s currently raising money through Givealittle.