Social policy announcements
Health will receive a huge boost in new operating funding with $3.2 billion more over the next four years.
This begins the journey to rebuild a health system that has simply not been given the resources to meet the demands of population growth and an ageing population over recent years.
An increase of $2.3 billion for District Health Boards will enable our hospitals and health services to provide quality care at all times to those who need it. This funding means there will be more money for services, such as mental health, the opportunity to update technology and take pressure off over-worked staff. This is the bread and butter funding that makes our hospitals and health services work well, and that has been neglected for too long.
A breakdown of the increase in operating funding includes the following items:
- $750 million of new capital for health projects
- a brand new hospital for Dunedin
- very low-cost GP visits for all community service card holders
- free doctors’ visits for everyone under the age of 14
- $126 million for elective surgery
- a $103.6 million increase in fees for midwives
- $83 million for air ambulances
- $67 million for the bowel cancer screening programme, and
- $10.5 million for a pilot programme on mental health therapries for young people.
In Education, this Budget provides $1.6 billion in new operating funding over four years. This new operating funding is a 45 percent increase on last year’s Budget.
New funding will address increasing demand for early childhood education and roll growth. We will provide $590 million to better support the early learning needs of 200,000 children. This will be the first universal adjustment for early childhood education services in a decade.
Schools will receive a $203.6 million boost to their operating funding, to keep up with the growing number of students and help meet rising costs. This funding amounts to a 27 percent increase from the equivalent funding provided in last year’s Budget.
We are also providing for an additional 1,500 teachers in our primary and secondary schools across the country over the next four years.
Another $395.8 million will be injected in new capital funding for better schools and to build hundreds of new classrooms.
Areas of spending include:
- $272.8 million on Learning Support operating funding
- $133 million on the Ongoing Resourcing Scheme for children with additional and complex learning needs, and
- $59.3 million on teacher aide funding.
This Government is determined to take action on the housing crisis and the scourge of homelessness which has emerged in this country.
In December’s mini-Budget we allocated $2.1 billion for our ambitious KiwiBuild programme to deliver 100,000 long-overdue affordable houses built across the country, including 50,000 in Auckland over the next 10 years.
Budget 2018 commits more than $1 billion in new funding to go towards Housing, including $369 million in new capital funding.
The different priorities of this Government are never clearer than in housing. One of our first actions was to stop the state house sell-off.
Today, I am announcing that this Government is taking serious action to increase the supply of public housing by investing $234.4 million in operating funding for Housing New Zealand and Community Housing Providers. This will provide more than 6,000 homes over the next four years.
Additional housing measures include:
- giving another $300 million to the Tamaki Regeneration Company to provide about 700 state houses and 1,400 houses in Tamaki for the open market, and
- providing $143 million in grants to those on lower incomes to insulate and heat their homes.
This Government is committed to a bold plan to reduce poverty and material hardship for our children, so that New Zealand truly becomes the best place in the world to be a child.
The initiatives we have already put in place will lift tens of thousands of children out of poverty. But we know that we have more to do.
The Prime Minister’s Child Poverty Reduction Bill is at the heart of our plan. It requires a strategy with bold new targets to be set to reduce child poverty over 10 years. We want to
ensure constant progress towards improving the lives of children in New Zealand.
Two new expert units are being established within the Prime Minister’s Department to develop strategy on this. The Child Poverty Unit and the Child Wellbeing Unit will advise
on policies and develop the overall strategy to improve the wellbeing of all children.
We want New Zealanders’ help on this and there will be widespread public consultation on the plan and the priorities later this year.
Oranga Tamariki, the Ministry for Children, will receive an additional $141.6 million over the next four years so more children and young people receive the care they need.
Grandparents raising their grandchildren and other caregivers will get extra support – we are entitling them to the same clothing allowance as foster carers.
The Budget papers list the following items as part of the measures to improve children’s living standards:
- extending free doctors’ visits and prescriptions to under-14-year-olds – 56,000 newly eligible children
- expanding school-based health services to cover decile 4 secondary schools
- increasing the number of children in early childhood education
- increasing access to additional learning support and the amount of support each child gets, with an additional $284 million investment over four years
- increasing public housing by over 6,000 homes over the next four years
- grants for low-income home owners to insulate and heat their homes
- providing $105 million over four years for a clothing allowance for children supported by an Orphans or Unsupported Child’s benefit, which was previously limited only to children in care
- improving the Government’s efforts to reduce child poverty by establishing the expert Child Poverty and Child Wellbeing Units
- expanding the sample size of the Household Economic Survey from about 3,500 households to about 20,000 households to provide a more accurate picture of child wellbeing and low income, so we can make sure our policies are making a difference.