By Bernard Hickey
Finance Minister Bill English has announced plans to widen the Government's 'investment led' approach in Budget 2015, including opening up the potential for community groups to bid for money previously spent by Government departments in areas such as education and employment.
English flagged the reforms for a bigger version of the 'Whanau Ora' approach to delivering social services in a speech to a New Zealand Data forum event in June. Here is our report from that event.
English issued a release on Tuesday detailing the "Next step in the social investment focus" and also arranged for a series of questions to be posed in Parliament's Question Time by National MP Jami-Lee Ross (see the video above).
English said Treasury would issue a Request For Information on Thursday asking for submissions from "people who work with vulnerable New Zealanders as well as others whose input might help us invest to get better results."
The plans are aimed at widening the Government's 'investment-led' approach in its last term from specific areas such as investing in mentors to get young single mums off the benefit. The National-led Government has also used this 'investment-led' approach in its Social Housing reforms, which are aimed at encouraging community groups to own and run affordable housing for vulnerable people, rather than Housing New Zealand.
The plans also follow Prime Minister John Key's greater focus since the election on measures to reduce child poverty.
"The Prime Minister has made clear that in this third term the Government will further focus on issues influencing children in material deprivation and hardship. Just as there are many and sometimes inter-related causes of hardship, there must also be multiple and sometimes inter-related strands to the solution," English said.
"The Better Public Services programme, reform of the social housing sector and the investment approach that we have developed to improve services for the people who need them most, are all part of the Government's ongoing programme, he said.
'New spending and re-prioritised spending'
English said the Treasury's Request for Information would focus on:
- Effective ways of identifying and engaging the children and families most at risk of poor education, criminal justice and employment outcomes.
- How existing services or support could be improved to deliver better outcomes for the most at-risk children and their families.
- Issues not currently being addressed that affect at-risk children and their families.
- New interventions, services or arrangements that could deliver better outcomes.
English said this approach would build on initiatives such as Whanau Ora, Children's Teams and Social Sector Trials,.
"Information collected will be used to identify where existing government services can be improved, or where new localised or citizen-centred services can be trialled as part of Budget 2015. Initiatives could be funded through new spending or reprioritising existing expenditure," he said.