A new provider for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) programmes has been found after Idea Services walked away from the contract citing a lack of government funding.

That left hundreds of families in limbo, but today Associate Health Minister Nicky Wagner announced Explore Services would take on the work.

Wagner, who hit out at Idea Services in Parliament last week after being questioned on the contract, did not back down from that criticism today.

"People with ASD are often vulnerable to sudden change or loss of routine so Idea's decision to cancel its autism services caused a great deal of unnecessary stress for hundreds of disabled people and their families," Wagner said.


"Within days the Ministry of Health has secured a new provider, meaning there will be no interruption to services."

The ministry is working with Idea and Explore on the transition.

Last week in Parliament Labour MP Poto Williams tabled a letter from Idea, the operational arm of IHC New Zealand, informing families they were unable to provide any ASD services because of underfunding.

Idea's letter to families on April 4 says it was "with huge regret" that the service had to stop delivering Autism Spectrum Disorder courses after the end of this month.

The contract had run since 2013, and demand for services had created waiting lists, the letter said.

"Working towards the renewal of the contract we raised issues about the waiting list and the expectations of delivery without sufficient funding. Unfortunately with underfunding of over $500,000 in the 2016/17 year and no offer of an increase for the coming year we cannot continue to provide the service," the letter said.

"We are very sorry that this has occurred and that we have not had the opportunity to give sufficient notice to enable continuity of services."

A spokeswoman for Idea told Radio New Zealand last week Wagner had been misinformed.


"We have been discussing this particular contract for six months, and in fact we have been asking to see the contract for three [months] ... we feared it would come in at a price we couldn't manage. And it came in late last week, and our fears were realised.

"We have been telling them for months that we have been running this contract at a loss for three years and we just couldn't continue."