Proven programme Whānau Ora neglected in Budget

The Government must explain why despite a significant increase in the number of people supported by Whānau Ora throughout COVID-19, no additional funding in Budget 2021 was provided, National’s Whānau Ora spokesperson Louise Upston says.

“During COVID-19 Whānau Ora provided a range of critical supports to over 226,000 New Zealander’s. Minister Henare boasted that Whānau Ora was one of the Government’s best performing portfolios.”

“However rather than building on the progress of an established programme delivering results, the Government has gifted large sums of money to its own ideological experiments.

“The Government has found hundreds of millions for a DHB restructure and Maori Health Authority and neither of these bureaucratic reshuffles guarantee any improvement in actual outcomes for those currently most at risk.

“Yet in the midst of a global pandemic when it is imminently important families receive direct support and accurate information, the Government have failed to back Whānau Ora.”

“With Maori unemployment at double the overall unemployment rate, Whānau Ora helps those of working-age into employment and develop plans for financial independence.

“This social investment approach lifts people up and helps prevent long term benefit dependency. Without direct interventions we risk leaving a growing number of people to languish on the benefit.

“A 14 April 2021 briefing was released to National which reveals Whānau Ora has not been discussed at a full Cabinet meeting since the 2018 Whānau Ora review.

“It begs the question, just how vigorously the Whānau Ora Minister advocated for an increase in Budget 2021. It also turns out the cabinet item the April briefing was prepared for was cancelled (for reasons unexplained in the release).

“Whānau Ora aims to help families at risk become independent and stand on their own two feet. Community organisations who know the families they help are empowered to support families achieve this aim.

“Unfortunately this broken compass budget has prioritised unproven bureaucratic rearrangements ahead of Whānau Ora’s proven track record of targeted, frontline support for at risk families.”