Wellbeing Budget 2020

Budget 2020 and the Wellbeing Approach

This Government is committed to putting the wellbeing of current and future generations of New Zealanders at the heart of everything we do.

In 2019, we delivered our first Wellbeing Budget. This marked an important milestone in the Government's programme of change and introduced new ways of making Budget decisions based on what matters to New Zealanders.

Budget 2019 invested in a package of initiatives that were developed across agencies, drawing on sector expertise and using a broad set of indicators to measure progress in a number of areas and, as well as investing in critical services and infrastructure, focused investment around the five Budget Priorities.

It represented a critical first step for embedding wellbeing into the way we work, made meaningful progress towards breaking down agency silos and balanced the needs of present generations, at the same time as considering the long-term impacts for future generations.

Achieving genuine and enduring change in the way Budgets and policies are developed takes time. We know that we cannot meaningfully address long-term problems like child poverty, inequality and climate change through a single Budget. This is why the Government committed to taking a wellbeing approach to Budget 2020 and beyond to build on the successes of our first Wellbeing Budget.

With the outbreak of COVID-19, New Zealand now faces a 1-in-100 year health and economic challenge. The pandemic continues to evolve, and it has already caused enormous social and economic disruption. It has required agility on the part of New Zealanders, the Government included.

We have quickly reoriented the Budget 2020 package to focus on maintaining critical support for existing public services and supporting key infrastructure investments. This has meant putting ‘on ice' new initiatives under priority spending areas that were announced in the Budget Policy Statement. We may well return to these projects, but for now our focus is on our response, recovery and rebuild from COVID-19.

Despite record investment over the past two years, core public services were already facing rising demand and prices prior to COVID-19 owing to previous underfunding. These pressures have only increased, so it remains critical we address them to maintain the vital public services New Zealand needs to overcome COVID-19. This investment will complement and support our targeted COVID-19 response and recovery measures.

Budget 2020 provides almost $5.6 billion for the health sector, so it can respond to the pandemic while maintaining the sustainable delivery of existing services. This investment includes $3.9 billion of operating funding for the 20 District Health Boards (DHBs) across New Zealand. This represents the largest ever annual investment in our DHBs and will ensure they can continue providing essential health services for our growing and changing population.

Budget 2020 also invests $1.6 billion in both government and non-government social services, which will support New Zealanders' education, employment and housing outcomes. This includes providing $183 million for Family Violence Services. This is the largest funding boost for these service providers in over a decade. It will enable these providers to recruit and develop highly capable staff and respond to the demands they are facing, provide support to safe houses, resource crisis response services for victims of family violence and those experiencing elder abuse and support treatment and help for family violence perpetrators. It also builds on the $311 million we invested in Budget 2019 to increase family and sexual violence prevention, grow essential workforces and build effective responses to violence in every community.

This year we have not included a Wellbeing Outlook, as we did last year. This is because our primary focus is our response to the rapidly changing economic impacts of COVID-19 and its immediate impacts on wellbeing. We will be able to provide the Outlook when circumstances become more stable, enabling more accurate measurement and analysis.

The Government remains committed to its wellbeing agenda. While the Budget initiatives presented today are different to the second Wellbeing Budget we had planned, the aims behind them remain the same: prioritising the wellbeing of current and future generations of New Zealanders.

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