Investing for wellbeing
The Wellbeing Budget priorities were selected using a collaborative and evidence-based approach. Data from the Treasury's Living Standards Framework (LSF) Dashboard was combined with advice from sector experts and Government Science Advisors to identify outcomes where New Zealand could and should be doing better. These outcomes support the Government's wider policy programme.
Table 1 – Examples of evidence behind the Wellbeing Budget priorities1
|Taking mental health seriously||Improving child wellbeing||Supporting Māori and Pasifika aspirations||Building a productive nation||Transforming the economy|
|Mental health – In any year, one in five New Zealanders will have a diagnosable mental illness, with three-quarters of lifetime cases starting by the age of 25||Material hardship – Around 150,000 children in New Zealand live in households experiencing material hardship||Living standards – Māori and Pacific people rank low in most measures of wellbeing relative to the rest of the population||R&D expenditure – New Zealand has low research and development (R&D) expenditure relative to OECD countries||Greenhouse gas emissions – New Zealand has one of the highest per capita rates of greenhouse gas emissions in the OECD|
|Suicide rates – New Zealand's suicide rate for young people is amongst the worst in the OECD||Health outcomes – 41,000 children are hospitalised each year for conditions associated with deprivation||Income level disparities – Māori and Pacific people have lower income levels, on average, than other groups||Future of work and automation – 21 per cent of current workforce tasks may be automated by 2030||Quality of waterways – Waterways in our farming areas have markedly higher pollution than in catchments dominated by native vegetation|
|Homelessness – One in 100 New Zealanders are homeless, based on the 2013 census||Family violence – New Zealand has high rates of family violence||Educational attainment – Māori and Pacific people are less likely to attain higher educational qualifications than other groups||Productivity – New Zealand's productivity is low relative to other OECD countries||Soil erosion – Annual soil erosion of 720 tonnes per square kilometre is reducing our land's productivity and harming aquatic ecosystems|
|Young people in employment – 12 per cent of young people aged 15-24 years are not in education, employment or training||Crowded housing – Over 40 per cent of Pacific children and roughly 25 per cent of Māori children live in crowded homes||Disparities in health status – Māori and Pacific people are less likely to report good, very good or excellent health than other groups||Incomes – New Zealand's incomes are in the bottom half of the OECD as measured by per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP)||Waste – New Zealand's level of waste per capita has increased substantially since 2013|
The process for Budget 2019 investment decisions was different to previous years. In the past, Ministers and agencies focused almost exclusively on their own areas of responsibility when designing Budget initiatives – an approach that has not worked for addressing New Zealand's long-term challenges. This year, Ministers had to show how their bids would achieve the wellbeing priorities. Cabinet Committees helped to draw together packages within each priority area. This meant working together closely, focusing on how they could collectively address the Wellbeing Budget priorities. Many programmes in the Budget are a result of new, collaborative approaches.
For the first time, decisions about Budget allocations have used a wellbeing analysis. The Government made use of the growing amount of evidence and wellbeing measures to look beyond just fiscal and economic implications. Initiatives were assessed on the difference they would make across a range of economic, social, environmental and cultural considerations, with a long-term view of intergenerational outcomes. This meant the Wellbeing Budget was developed with an understanding of the impacts it would have across the range of areas that matter to New Zealanders.
This document demonstrates the new approach we are taking to presenting Budget information. It is the first time a Government has presented the Budget in a document that links the wellbeing outlook for New Zealand with the rationale and impacts of Budget decisions. Rather than just containing an economic and fiscal outlook, this document has an overall wellbeing outlook for New Zealand. It identifies wellbeing needs and explains what we are doing to address them. While this remains an area for further work, ongoing progress on Indicators Aotearoa New Zealand and the Treasury's LSF Dashboard will allow us to monitor improvements in New Zealanders' wellbeing over time.