Thursday 19 May, the Government stepped out on its annual tightrope walk, launching Budget 2022. A tightrope, as in not only is Government attempting to slice the funding pie for the needs of now, but also laying the foundations for wellbeing for future generations. 

This year’s budget is launched amidst a climate of spiralling living costs, continued rising housing prices and lagging wages. Also in the contextual mix is the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, the war in the Ukraine and the resultant supply chain challenges. 

Budget 2022’s big ticket items – as announced in the weeks leading up to Budget day – are focussed on health and climate.  

Read more about funding the health system reforms here

Read more about health services improvements here

Read more about the Emissions Reduction Plan here

Read more about vehicles and emissions targets here

Read the full Budget 2022 here

The other Budget 2022 initiative consuming much ‘opinionista’ space is the $350 Cost of Living payment to be paid over 3 months to 2.1 million New Zealanders earning under $70,000. The payment was introduced as a temporary measure to ease hardship. People already receiving the winter energy payment ae not eligible.
Read more about the payment here

How helpful this payment is and to whom is the focus of debate. Stuff writer Josie Pagani sums up Budget 2022 as not so much a lolly scramble as “one lolly for each person.” But, she adds, “a lolly’s a lolly.” 

Read the Stuff article here

  

Could the Government have done more for low income NZers? 

Sure. We would love to have seen more investment addressing the systemic issues behind the inequities experienced by a growing number of New Zealanders. There are small gains, starts and beginnings in a number of places (highlighted below), but these will do little to reduce the impact of the economic cycle we find ourselves in. The balancing act of this budget means that no one really benefits, and we know from hard experience what this means for those we serve. 

But, there are lollies 

There are good things in Budget 2022– things that benefit the communities we serve. Some of those good things have been submerged in the abundance of comment; some because they were announced early. Things like the considerable investment in establishing Health NZ and the Maori Health Authority represents a tangible step toward more New Zealanders being able to access quality health services nationwide, no matter who they are or where they are. Things like $27 million (over 4 years) for community-based mental health crisis services. Things like $90 million to expand Mana Ake mental wellbeing services for primary and intermediate students.       

 

Diving deep into Budget 2022 

In this special edition of Policy Watch, we are putting the spotlight on some of the less-talked-about-though-still-key Budget 2022 provisions of interest to our sector. Our team has taken a deep dive, looking at: 

  • Announcements impacting the wider social services sector 
  • Budget initiatives relevant to our policy focus 
  • Aspects that have us wondering 
  • Other comment and analysis 

 

Budget announcements impacting the wider sector 

In this section of our review, we’ve scanned a broad range of Budget areas for the funding of obvious and not-so-obvious initiatives that will impact social services provision.  

Justice 
Budget 2022 sees some timely allocations to new and existing Justice initiatives to support changing perspectives in that sector, including:  

  • Funding services to improve the experience of victims of crimes 
  • Improving the process for people appearing before the District Courts to prevent adjournments and address the case backlog 
  • Continued funding for the Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Courts 
  • New funding to help meet the demand for critical court and justice services, including providing for increased fees for specific community-based justices services  
  • Foundational family violence and sexual violence training for the Justice workforce 
  • Contingency funding for Te Ao Mārama, a co-design/delivery initiative with iwi and communities for the development of new solutions for the District Court process  
  • Additional funding for Te Pae Oranga iwi, to increase capacity of service providers working with rangatahi and family violence victims. 

Budget 2022 also provides an extra $190 million (over 4 years) to maintain and strengthen the legal aid system.
Read more from the Law Society about the legal aid increase here

Family Violence and Sexual Violence 
Prevention of Family Violence and Sexual Violence is receiving $114.5 million (over 4 years). Funding is directed towards primary prevention services, support community-led responses, and improving workforce capability. This includes:  

  • a new specialist support service for victims of non-fatal strangulation 
  • building workforce capability 
  • maintaining NGO provision of services for victims and perpetrators 
  • ensuring engagement of the community in the delivery of Te Aorerekura and its Action Plan. 
  • increasing accessibility and uptake of financial grants to victims 
  • support for expanded community-led responses 

Read more here

Disabled People
The creation of a Ministry for Disabled People is a considerable step forward for Aotearoa New Zealand and Budget 2022 provides $100 million for the Ministry’s establishment.  Budget 2022 los provides for: 

  • expanding of community-based services (an additional 370 places per year from 2023/2024 onwards) 
  • Extending Disability Support Systems transformation (Enabling Good Lives) to more of the disabled population 

Read more here 

MSD Transformation
Funding is provided for Te Pae Tawhiti – Our Future – to progress the transformation of the Ministry of Social Development’s operating and service models.
Read more here

Pay Equity 
New funding is included to establish a Pay Equity Centre of Excellence to provide operational support for claims and address processes constraints. 

Read more about the Pay Equity Centre of Excellence proposal here

Digital Divide 
Budget 2022 included funding to address some of the factors behind the growing digital divide in this country: 

  • funding for CERT NZ to improve New Zealand’s cyber resilience. This includes a pilot victim remediation service and the development of a system to make reporting incidents easier    
  • improving broadband infrastructure – capacity and coverage – in the worst-served rural communities 
  • continued funding to address access inequity through providing for connections for students in financially disadvantaged homes 
  • modernising how Stats NZ sources and uses data to meet demand and reduce burden on respondents 
  • as part of Better Later Life, providing for digital literacy training and support for older people to enable them to better connect and keep up with changing technology 

   

Budget initiatives relevant to our policy focus 

Our Budget 2022 deep dive included an evaluation through the lens of our policy groups. Dispersed through Budget 2022 is much that will impact our members and those they serve. Here, we’re aiming to amplify these small, and often missed, but important items. 

Impacts of Poverty and Exclusion 

Permanently increasing the hardship assistance income limits from July, and indexing these limits to average wage growth from 1 April 2023.
Read more here

Continuing the increased funding for Financial Capability Services for 2022/2023 year ($14M), halving into 2023/2024 ($7M).
Read more here

Increasing support for dental treatment from $300 to $1,000 and removing the requirement for treatment to arise from an emergency.
Read more here

 MSD have a helpful summary of all of their initiatives, including a large amount relating to Commissioning. 
Read more here

Initial funding to extend the focus and reach of the Homelessness Action Plan. Including the expansion of transitional housing and a new supported accommodation service for rangatahi.  

Further attempts to alleviate housing inaccessibility for first home buyers, renters and social housing:  

  • house price caps for First Home Grants increased in many parts of the country 
  • house price caps for First Home Loans removed entirely 
  • Kāinga Whenua Loan cap will also be increased from $200,000 to $500,000 
  • the Affordable Housing Fund to initially provide support for not-for-profit rental providers 
  • significant additional funding to meet existing and planned public and transitional housing costs

Read more here

 

Children and Families 

Providing for child support payments to be passed on directly to sole beneficiaries who receive child support – up to the abatement level 
Read more here

Increased funding for the Incredible Years and PB4L programmes, alongside a targeted “return to school” focus. The funding is effectively a CPI increase to ensure delivery is not impacted by the challenging economy, with a small fund to grow PB4L and Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu delivery
Read more here

First increase for the Ministry of Youth Development in some years. We hope this is a sign of things to come.
Read more here

Funding of the expansion to ACC that will see the Maternal Birth and Other Matters Amendment Bill implemented.
Read our original submission in support of this mahi here  

 

Older People 

Implementing the Better Later Life – He Oranga Kaumātua 2019 to 20334 Strategy and its Action Plan. Funding focuses on: 

  • training and support for older people to connect and keep up with changing technology. 
  • a pilot encouraging entrepreneurship among older people, including those not currently well represented  
  • a pilot encouraging home sharing to enable ageing in place and affordable housing options  

 Read more here

 Topping up local government to meet the increased costs of funding the Gold Card benefit of free off-peak public transport.  

Funding for the implementation of the Dementia Mate Wareware Action Plan, which includes the delivery of four post-diagnostic support trials and interventions, and innovative respite care for family and whānau carers.
Read more here 

 

Aspects that have us wondering 

As always, a Budget raises a range of questions. These are a few of our more specific wonderings… 

  •  With inflation being what it is – concerns that areas across Government not receiving an increase in this Budget are effectively experiencing a cut. 
  • We are excited to see continued funding for the Wellington-based Piki Pilot. Since 2019 this programme has supported rangatahi across Greater Wellington to receive free therapy and support. After 3 years and successive positive evaluations, why does this programme remain a pilot, and why is it limited to Wellington? 
  • The Budget contains a range of funding for “Business” innovation, evaluation, research and development. Business NZ defines a business as something commercial, aiming to make a profit. We would argue that the definition is more fundamental than that, and that the criteria include having a set of legal and financial responsibilities related to service provision. Organisations in our sector pay tax through GST and as employers. We would argue strongly that we are in business, and that we should therefore have access to the same supports for innovation, evaluation and research and development… Watch this space as this is something that NZCCSS intends to highlight across the year…. 
  •  While honouring the Government’s right to choose with whom they engage, we question the continued focus, to the level of being a line in the budget, that the “Tripartite Forum” receives. We argue that the Forum – its purpose – needs defining and we strongly advocate for greater diversity in representation. Such diversity, alongside a commitment to progressing intersectional needs are requisite steps if the Forum is to actually achieve worthwhile and just outcomes. 

 

Other comment and analysis 

A selection of other commentary on and analysis of this year’s budget. 

Vision West 
Read here

CPAG 
Read here

SSPA/The Spinoff
Read here 
 

Fairer Futures 
Read here

Salvation Army 
Read here

Deloitte 
Read here

KPMG
Read here
 

Beyond Budget 2022 

Budgets are big news and take a lot of attention. Here at NZCCSS we see our greater focus as being the year – and years – to come. While Budget 2022 may not have delivered all that we would like to see, we’ll be investing our time in advocating for the changes needed to progress towards improved equity and social justice for all New Zealanders. 

 

Mā whero, mā pango ka oti ai te mahi  

With red and black the work will be complete 

    

We welcome your feedback on POLICY WATCH and other publications produced by the Council, email: comms@nzccss.org.nz

Ngā mihi nui

From all of us in the team at NZCCSS