$652.1m Social Investment for vulnerable NZers
Budget 2016’s Social Investment package will help the most at-risk New Zealanders lead better lives by intervening early and investing in public services tailored to their circumstances, Finance Minister Bill English says.
The package, which provides $641.6 million of operating funding over the next four years and $10.5 million of capital, includes additional support for vulnerable children as well as initiatives in corrections, education and health.
“Social Investment is one of the key tools the Government has to drive changes that will help improve the lives of our most vulnerable people,” Mr English says.
“It’s about understanding the drivers of social dysfunction, assessing what makes the most difference to people’s lives, and using evidence to do more of what works.”
Key initiatives in the Social Investment package include:
- $199.9 million over four years, of which $141.5 million is in contingency, plus $3 million in 2015/16 to implement a system-wide reform of services and support for vulnerable children and young people to ensure they grow up in stable families and communities.
- $61.2 million, of which $19.8 million is reprioritised, towards extending the Youth Service to 18 and 19-year olds identified as needing more support because they are at-risk of long-term benefit dependency.
- $50.3 million to reduce barriers to employment, including for people with complex health conditions who would otherwise spend a significant amount of time on benefit.
- $43 million additional funding for schools, targeted at children most at-risk of not achieving in education.
- $20 million for prison Out-of-Gate reintegration services to support offenders when they are leaving the controlled routine of a prison and returning to the community.
- $40 million operating and $10 million capital in contingency to raise data quality and build infrastructure for secure data distribution. This will support government agencies and NGOs to deliver better results from social services using rigorous, evidence-based measurement, evaluation and feedback.
- $18 million over two years to extend the Warm Up New Zealand programme to insulate rental houses occupied by low-income tenants, particularly those with high health needs.
- $18 million over four years to expand the Healthy Homes Initiative to reduce preventable illnesses among young children (newborns to 5 year-olds) who are living in cold, damp and unhealthy homes.
The package also includes $40 million for Whānau Ora which, under the leadership of the Minister for Whānau Ora, has been successful in delivering better results for whānau and families.
The additional funding will allow Whānau Ora to support up to 2,500 more whānau and families in crucial areas such as managing health and disability issues, improving financial literacy skills, and reducing household debt.
“These initiatives put the needs of our most vulnerable children and families at the centre of decisions on planning, programmes and resourcing,” Mr English says.
“The package builds on the approach taken to welfare, which has seen the number of beneficiaries fall to the lowest level in eight years and reduced the welfare system’s future cost by $12 billion over the last four years.
“By addressing the drivers of demand for public services and helping people become more independent, Social Investment also reduces the long-term costs of public services. What works for communities works for the Government’s books.”