Weekend Sun column

Friday, May 22, 2015

Yesterday Finance Minister Bill English delivered the National-led Government’s seventh Budget. Minister English, under the leadership of John Key, has done a remarkable job of steering the country through recession and the aftermath of the global financial crisis.

We have managed to get control of Government spending, while at the same time delivering better public services for New Zealanders and maintaining support for the most vulnerable. A large part of how we have been able to do this is by investing more money in the interventions that help break the long-term cycle of welfare dependency.

Whether this is through better drug and alcohol treatment and education programmes in prisons, or helping beneficiaries get the education and skills they need so they can get a job, we have put money where it will have the greatest impact. Budget 2015 provides an extra $6.5 million in funding for new and existing rehabilitation initiatives which help low-level offenders access community services, which has proven to help reduce reoffending.

In a pre-Budget speech in Wellington earlier this month, Minister English discussed how last year the expected cost of supporting current beneficiaries over their lifetime has reduced by a massive $7.5 billion. A key part of this has come from getting more sole parents into work. Taking just one group, the number of teenage solo parents on a benefit has dropped by 40 per cent since 2011.

Budget 2015 continues with this ‘investment approach’, which is the philosophy of spending a little bit more money upfront to ensure better results for people, and ultimately the country, in the long-term.