The Wellbeing Budget 2019
As expected the government’s The Wellbeing Budget, presented by the Minister of Finance, the Hon Grant Robertson, on 30 May focussed very much on mental health and child wellbeing.
The wider economy was looked after with increases in funding to KiwiRail, the establishment of a new venture capital fund, investment in science and research, and so on.
The government has indicated that New Zealand’s economy is in good shape, despite some softening of the global economy.
The government’s investment in mental health includes:
- $1.9 billion to be allocated towards mental health funding over the next five years.
- The introduction of a new universal frontline mental health service; this is expected to help 325,000 people with mild to moderate mental health needs by 2024.
- Acknowledging there is a current skill shortage, the government has committed to not only train more mental health professionals, but also to build more facilities.
- $40 million over four years is to be allocated to suicide prevention services.
- The government is committed to reduce material hardship – a measure of access to essential items for living. Currently this figure is 13.3% of New Zealand’s children; the government aims to reduce this to 10.3% by 2021 and to 6% by 2028.
- $1 billion has been committed to improve child wellbeing in New Zealand.
- A surprise move is to index main benefits to the average wage increases – rather than to inflation – from 2020 onwards. Under this new regime, by 2023 the amount beneficiaries receive per week will be up to $17 more than they would have received had the current CPI system remained in place.
- This change does not, however, apply to student allowances, Working for Families or the accommodation supplement.
- Funding increases to decile 1–7 schools (educating half a million children) so parents won’t be asked to pay a donation. The proviso is that those schools must stop asking parents for that donation.
- Significant investment is to be made to better support Māori and Pasifika communities.
The wider economy
- KiwiRail is to receive more than $1 billion: $741 million of this is allocated to rolling stock, the Interislander ferries and capital requirements, and $300 million will come from the Provincial Growth Fund for rail investment in the regions.
- $1.4 billion will go to the Auckland City Rail Link.
- The government will establish a $300 million fund for investing in New Zealand venture capital markets.
- There is to be $95 million invested on science and research on climate change and into new energy technologies.
- $161 million has been allocated to support the development of innovative businesses, commercialise products and adopt cutting-edge technologies.
- $25 million over four years will be spent to help the farming sector deal with the effects of climate change.
- With all the District Health Boards now operating in deficit, the government has budgeted $190 million to support those DHBs.
- $1.7 billion will be available for the building and redevelopment of hospitals.
For a more detailed overview, you can read The Treasury’s Budget at a Glance document here. To read the Minister’s entire Budget speech, please click here.
If you would like to talk with us about how the Budget may impact you and/or your business, please don’t hesitate to contact us.