28 May 2019

The Wellbeing Budget

From The Detail, 5:00 am on 28 May 2019

The government will on Thursday announce its wellbeing budget.

Ministers have traditionally competed for a piece of the billion dollar pie.

“We’re talking about new spending because most of the budgets are pretty set particularly for health, education [and] welfare” says the NBR’s political editor, Brent Edwards.

Edwards says in previous budgets, the final say goes to the treasury and “a small cabal of ministers, the finance minister and his associate.”

This year the government has changed tack.

Edwards says the bidding war-approach has been canned in favour of an inter-departmental approach to issues plaguing our society.

For example -“let’s get a coherent policy where you look at what the best interventions are to reduce child poverty”.

The government has already made pre-budget announcements, tackling Maori offending; and the family sexual-violence package; with this multi-pronged approach.

For the latter, Oranga Tamariki, Te Puni Kōkiri, The Ministry of Social Development, The Ministry of Justice and Police are among the 10 government agencies involved in the policy strategy.

Every new bid for government money also needs to stand the test of time.

RNZ’s Yvette McCullough explains, “they’ve had to prove there’s an inter-generational benefit to their initiatives”.

Treasury, which runs its eye through every minute detail of each bid, will have to consider the cost of a project over the next 30 or 40 years.

“If you look at it through the generations you might argue the cost is a lot cheaper because you’re going to solve all these social problems and you won’t have to spend money in the future”, McCullough says.

The new budget will also need a new measure to gauge its success – because GDP alone will no longer be the success standard.

McCullough says the government will be looking at if the country and people are doing well.

Photo: RNZ