Budget 2017 invests $64.4 million of new operating funding to help people move off benefits and into work, Social Development Minister Anne Tolley says.
“A proactive approach to supporting clients to prepare for employment has seen the number of people receiving a main benefit continue to fall,” Mrs Tolley says.
“The proportion of the population on a main benefit is the lowest it’s been in a March quarter since 1997, at 9.6 per cent.
“Of the $64.4 million, $19.5 million will be allocated over three years as part of the Budget 2017 Social Investment Package to expand intensive support for up to 1,500 clients across the country who first received a benefit prior to age 20 and are now aged 25 to 39.
“Through intensive work-focused case management, staff listen and adapt the way clients are advised and supported to align more with an individual’s needs.”
The new investment also includes, over four years:$6 million in youth-focused enterprise education initiatives, to extend development, leadership and mentoring in the area of business studies and social enterprise learning. $4.1 million through the Government’s Social Investment Package to support an extra 1,000 clients with mental health conditions in Christchurch and Waitemata to find and maintain employment. $34.8 million to meet increased costs of the Ministry of Social Development’s current services.
“This Government is committed to supporting people into work so they can lead independent and successful lives,” Mrs Tolley says.
The Government will be advising social service providers that their new contracts will not require the collection of individual client level data until a new data protection and use policy is in place, say Social Investment Minister Amy Adams and Minister for Children Anne Tolley.
“Our Social Investment approach is about intervening earlier to help change lives for the better. We want to be working alongside providers on ways data sources can help ensure our most vulnerable New Zealanders are getting access to the services that they need,” Ms Adams says.
“To help us deliver the best results for New Zealanders, better analysing the effectiveness of services is critical, this means working with providers on how we gather data about individual clients and the appropriate purposes for which that data can be used.
“The Social Investment Agency will lead a Working Group with Statistics New Zealand and NGOs to agree on an approach to increasing the availability of data in a way that is scalable, and builds and maintains trust and confidence.”
“It makes sense for the Social Investment Agency to lead this work as the data we need to collect and analyse will be used by the wider social sector,” Mrs Tolley says.
“Extensive engagement in this process is important. The Working Group will also include representatives from Iwi and Pasifika. Separate to the Working Group, there will also be opportunities for interviews, workshops and an online forum for key partners.
“An advisory group will provide oversight and lead the work to identify, evaluate and recommend a robust approach. It will bring together a number of agencies, as well as the Government Chief Information Officer, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner, and independent data consultants.
“The Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki will be writing to providers to advise them their 1 July 2017 contracts will not require the collection of data until the approach has been agreed and suitable IT systems are available. We then intend to write to providers to agree a contract variation by the end of the current financial year.”
The Working Group will provide advice on the collection and use of data from a client and provider perspective, including privacy issues, as well as how providers can access data and use the results to improve their services. It will also look at what support and training the sector will need, and it will oversee ongoing engagement.
The advisory group will ensure that appropriate security and privacy assessments are completed. It will also identify and approve risk mitigation, and develop and oversee engagement with key partners.
Temporary homes will be moved on to the Whakatāne Holiday Park and next to flood-damaged homes while properties in the Edgecumbe area are repaired, Lead Minister for Edgecumbe Anne Tolley and Building and Construction Minister Dr Nick Smith said today.
The Ministers visited the holiday park to see the region’s recovery first-hand, and visit the site where a number of temporary homes will be built to increase accommodation options in the area.
“More than 250 homes were damaged when the Rangitāiki River broke its banks last month. MBIE’s Temporary Accommodation Service has had more than 90 registrations from people with damaged homes who need support to find temporary accommodation,” Mrs Tolley says.
“The Government remains committed to ensuring that locals have the support they need to get back on their feet as soon as possible.
“We’ve provided $500,000 of Enhanced Taskforce Green funding to employ people to assist the Council with the clean-up, and the first work crews got under way this week.
“Over 2800 Civil Defence payments, totalling more than $722,000, have been made to help people with food, clothing and bedding, and there’s also been over 230 other emergency related payments, totalling about $41,000.”
Dr Smith says: “The temporary housing to be built on Whakatāne Holiday Park and, where suitable, adjacent to flood-damaged homes will enable people to stay connected to their community while their homes are repaired. These are to complement the other housing options available through the private market, including holiday accommodation and social housing. The total initiative will include about 30 temporary homes.
“These solutions have proved very effective in supporting the recovery in the Christchurch and Kāikoura earthquakes and are an appropriate response to the difficulties faced by Edgecumbe flood victims. The first homes arrived this week and we are working with the Council to have the temporary village operational next month.
“These temporary accommodation options have been developed in partnership with the Whakatāne District Council, with the costs being shared. Households registered with the service will be able to access these homes while their own is repaired.”
Mrs Tolley and Dr Smith also visited a property in one of Edgecumbe’s most flood-affected streets, Rata Avenue, where the first portable unit was recently delivered and installed by the service.
“This is the first of a number of portable homes to be made available to homeowners who wish to stay on their own land. They will be connected to existing services where possible,” Dr Smith says.
Households affected by flooding who need support to find temporary accommodation should register at www.temporaryaccommodation.mbie.govt.nz or call 0800 779 997 to discuss your requirements.
Social Development Minister Anne Tolley has welcomed the latest benefit valuation, which confirms long-term welfare dependence is reducing, particularly among sole parents.
“Welfare reform and the hard work of Work and Income staff has had a significant impact in helping more people into work while also saving taxpayers money,” says Mrs Tolley.
“Our focus on providing targeted support and more intensive case management for those most at risk of welfare dependence has helped reduce the liability by $1.7 billion.
“Over $1 billion of this reduction in the last year is due to more sole parents moving off benefits, with fewer people returning to benefits making up most of the remaining reduction.
“Both sole parents and young beneficiaries are now predicted to spend nearly three years less on a benefit compared to 2012.
“Supporting these two groups has been a priority for us because we know helping them off benefits will transform their and their families’ lives.
“Almost half of children who grow up in a benefit dependent household end up on a benefit before the age of 23, which is why we’ve invested millions in providing intensive support and training as well as help with study and childcare so sole parents can go into work.
“With the number of sole parents on a benefit decreasing 32 per cent since 2012 and nearly 60,000 fewer children living in benefit dependent households than in 2011, it’s clear this investment is helping break the cycle of intergenerational welfare dependence.
“The valuation also shows an increase in the proportion of young beneficiaries going off benefits following the introduction of the Youth Service in 2012.
“Those who have been on a benefit before the age of 20 make up about 75 per cent of current liability, with teen parents having some of the highest lifetime costs of any group on welfare.
“Our investment in the Youth Service is supporting these young people into education and training and giving them the tools they need to prepare for employment.”
The current lifetime liability of the benefit system is $76 billion. External economic factors such as interest rates and the Government’s $25 a week increase in benefit rates for families added around $8.7 billion in the year to June 2016.
The valuation shows a $13.7 billion reduction over the last five years in the benefit system’s future lifetime cost due to welfare reforms and Work and Income’s actions, which equates to clients spending 1.3 million fewer years on main benefits over their working lifetimes.
Although previous valuations have identified a range of risk factors that contribute to benefit dependence, this is the first time social housing has been included in the analysis. The report shows that almost half of those living in social housing are receiving a benefit.
Risk factors identified in previous valuations include child protection history, criminal history, educational status and intergenerational benefit receipt.
“These valuations help us understand who’s at risk of staying on a benefit long-term so we can provide the right support to those who need it most,” says Mrs Tolley.
The full valuation report is available at https://www.msd.govt.nz/about-msd-and-our-work/newsroom/media-releases/2017/2016-valuation-of-the-benefit-system-for-working-age-adults.html
Social Development Minister Anne Tolley has welcomed today’s release of the independent review into MSD’s individual client level data IT system.
“It’s vital clients and providers have confidence that their information is appropriately protected,” says Mrs Tolley.
“While no privacy breach of any personal data occurred, I am extremely disappointed that the report highlights a number of areas of concern.
“While this occurred at a time when the Ministry was going through major organisational change, the report highlights that the project lacked the appropriate governance, project management processes, and dedicated project resource.
“The reviewers also found there was insufficient due diligence in the selection and implementation of the temporary IT solution. There was a lack of appropriate checks and testing to confirm the system’s readiness. Privacy considerations and security risks were not properly identified and mitigated in a timely manner.
“Some of these difficulties could have been mitigated if the team had used the experience and knowledge from within the Ministry and from other agencies.
“I have made it clear to the Chief Executive that I expect these lessons will be taken on board. Given previous IT issues, the Ministry should have overseen this project appropriately.
“I understand that an employment investigation by the Chief Executive is now being undertaken as a result of the review.”
Former Deloitte NZ consultant, Murray Jack, led the review which looked at the circumstances around the 3 April 2017 technical breach where a provider was able to view another provider’s folder. It also examined why the IT system was selected, the security steps taken, and the governance of the project.
The independent review is available at: www.msd.govt.nz
Social Development Minister Anne Tolley says new research confirms the need for wrap around support for at-risk children and young people to help them lead successful lives as adults.
“We know that children who experience adversity are more likely to have poor education and employment outcomes, that’s why the Government is focused on ensuring they receive the support they need,” says Mrs Tolley.
“Research published today shows only 44 per cent of at-risk children studied were projected to have positive education and employment outcomes.
“The report highlights a number of protective factors which at-risk children and young people suggested would help – including accessible social, health and community services, particularly counselling, having self-belief and determination, and strong supportive relationships and networks.
“It also shows effective early intervention, a child-centred and whole of family and whanau approach, effective wrap around support, and adult education opportunities are important to improving outcomes.
“The new Ministry for Vulnerable Children Oranga Tamariki puts young people’s safety and wellbeing first. We’re undertaking a four to five year transformation to build a child-centred care and protection system focused on trauma prevention and early intervention, rather than crisis management.
“Under the new Ministry, it will be easier for young people to raise concerns or complaints, and they will have access to a new independent advocacy service, VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai.
“I’d like to acknowledge the individuals who came forward and were willing to tell their stories as part of this research.”
Of the 121,400 at-risk children studied, over 53,800 (44 per cent) were projected to have positive education and employment outcomes. In comparison, 79 per cent of the low or no-risk group were projected to have positive outcomes.
Superu commissioned Artemis Research to conduct the study, which involved qualitative interviews and analysis of at-risk children. The research, Journeys of resilience – From adverse childhoods to achieving in adulthood, is available at: www.superu.govt.nz
The Government will be undertaking a competitive tender process for a national helpline for New Zealanders affected by sexual violence, say Justice Minister Amy Adams and Social Development Minister Anne Tolley.
“The Government is committed to building a more effective integrated system to ensure victims of sexual violence receive the support and services they need,” says Ms Adams.
“We want to better support victims of sexual violence through a long-term plan with a focus on prevention, and appropriate crisis and on-going support. We also want to ensure that funding goes to where it is most needed and where it can deliver the best results for New Zealanders.”
Budget 2016 invested $46 million to better support victims and prevent sexual violence, this included a new 24/7 national information and support helpline.
“MSD will shortly be going to market to run an open competitive tender for a dedicated national helpline for New Zealanders affected by sexual violence,” says Mrs Tolley.
“The helpline will provide free access to information, crisis support and referral on to local service providers. It will be available 24/7 and will be accessible by phone, text, and online. The helpline is expected to be up and running by December 2017.”
The helpline is part of a number of initiatives to support victims and to prevent sexual violence as part of the work being led by the Ministerial Group on Family Violence and Sexual Violence.
Social Development Minister Anne Tolley says Jobseeker Support clients with a cancer diagnosis no longer need to provide multiple medical certificates.
“I asked MSD to work with the Cancer Society to help simplify the process for clients with a cancer diagnosis,” says Mrs Tolley.
“Previously clients had to provide multiple medical certificates to defer work obligations which was burdensome at an already stressful and difficult time.
“After working closely with the Cancer Society, we’ve redesigned the process so clients just need to provide one medical certificate for 13 weeks cover.
“Each month on average 70 people are diagnosed with cancer and have to apply for a benefit as they undergo treatment. In February 2017 around 1,180 clients had a cancer diagnosis.
“Since the streamlined process went live, the new system is working well. MSD is continuing to work with the Cancer Society to ensure health professionals know about the changes and what treatment information is needed.”
The standard four weeks, plus four weeks, then 13 weeks medical certificate cycle has been replaced by one medical certificate. Provided MSD has information about the expected length of treatment, which is on average six to nine months, this can be further extended.
The Earthquake Commission (EQC) will lead the clean-up of flood-damaged properties in Edgecumbe, say Minister Responsible for the Earthquake Commission Gerry Brownlee and Lead Minister for Edgecumbe Anne Tolley.
“I’ve authorised EQC to clean-up all affected properties in the township, including for those homeowners who do not have insurance,” Mr Brownlee says.
“Having the Government pick up the tab for cleaning up Edgecumbe means work can get underway while cost sharing arrangements are finalised with the Whakatane District Council.
“This arrangement is similar to the management of emergency works in Canterbury following the February 2011 earthquake.
“EQC has started the clean-up efforts and contractors on the ground have already cleared about 17 properties with around 15 more currently scheduled.
“Staff will be contacting residents to discuss the work involved in clearing their properties and to offer those who are insured the opportunity to lodge a claim.
“A large part of the clean-up involves clearing the silt and debris that have inundated properties and their subfloors so the foundations can be checked and repaired,” Mr Brownlee says.
Mrs Tolley says Edgecumbe is now well into the recovery phase following the severe flooding in the region.
“The Government is committed to ensuring the people of Edgecumbe have the support they need to get back on their feet as soon as possible,” Mrs Tolley says.
“We’ve provided $500,000 of Enhanced Taskforce Green funding to employ people to assist the Council with the clean-up. Work continues on the needs assessments, and the first work crews will be up and running next week.
“Over 2,700 civil defence payments (totalling over $685,000) have been made to help people with food, clothing and bedding, and there’s also been over 220 other emergency related payments (totalling around $36,000).
“The Temporary Accommodation Service has received 60 requests to date.”
Last month, the Government announced an extra $700,000 to further support businesses, farmers and growers. Inland Revenue also waived late payment fees and penalties for those prevented from paying on time due to the flooding.
More information about EQC’s cover for this year’s flood events is online at http://www.eqc.govt.nz/get-help-now-claims/march-floods.