Budget 2019

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The lead-up to the Wellbeing Budget has been well signposted even if the track’s been somewhat muddied by drama. It’s a bold step to try and quantify progress in other than strictly financial terms. The brief is to implement change and manage the country’s finances.

The focus is on 5 priority areas:

  • taking mental health seriously
  • improving child wellbeing
  • supporting Māori and Pasifika aspirations
  • building a productive nation, and
  • transforming the economy

Mental health initiatives include a new frontline service for mental health, funding boosts to existing suicide prevention services, more nurses in secondary schools, and 1,044 new Housing First places to tackle homelessness.

Child wellbeing measures see a $320m package to address family and sexual violence, assisting young people out of state care into independent living, increased funding to decile 1-7 schools to take financial pressure off parents, and indexing main benefits to wage growth from April 2020, meaning benefit payments will rise in line with wages – not inflation.

Māori and Pasifika are supported by a major boost for Whānau Ora (family health) focusing on health and reducing reoffending, support for the Pacific Employment Support Service and Te Reo and Pacific languages, and a $12m programme targeting rheumatic fever.

While it’s hoped that increasing health and wellbeing in New Zealand will foster increased prosperity, the business community gaze will be on building a productive nation, and transforming the economy, as well as on tax policy ahead.