Communities Count 2 – National Party Response

Summary of recommendations

Leave No One Behind

Acknowledge the underlying causes of poverty and inequality. We urge the Government to make the choice to reduce inequality by setting out aspirational goals, supported by long-term and short-term strategies.

 This Government has a proven track record of putting children first by investing heavily in their health, housing, education and social needs and we’re getting results, but there is always more to do. Budget 2014 includes a $500 million package for families, including free doctors’ visits for under-13 year olds, and extending Paid Parental Leave and Parental Tax Credit.

We’ll continue to provide hardship assistance, free and low cost healthcare and education, Working for Families, housing assistance and a number of other targeted supports to help low income families become independent and resilient. The best way out of poverty is through paid work, and the Government’s welfare reforms are seeing results with nearly 16,000 fewer people on benefit compared to 12 months ago, and over 30,000 fewer children living in benefit dependent homes compared to two years ago.

This is a complex issue which we’re tackling on a number of levels to make a difference. On top of free breakfasts to all schools that want it, social workers based in all decile 1-3 schools and warming up nearly 300,000 homes, in this year’s budget we are investing nearly $500 million over four years in services and support for families.

Supporting new parents

Paid parental leave will be extended by four weeks and the eligibility will be expanded to include caregivers other than parents and people in less regular work, or who recently changed jobs. We’re increasing the maximum parental tax credit from $150 a week to $220 a week and we’re increasing the entitlement from eight to ten weeks.

 Health

Free doctors’ visits and prescriptions are being extended to children under 13 because no parent should be held back from taking their child to the doctor because of cost. We have a strong focus on the prevention of rheumatic fever. Educating people about this debilitating illness is really important and we need to continue to do that as well as addressing poor housing and overcrowding. We’ve invested more than $65 million into preventing rheumatic fever in the past six years. Recent progress reports show 91 percent of eight month olds are fully immunized with the health sector working hard to reach 95 percent by December 2014.

Welfare reforms

Getting parents into work is the best way to increase their incomes and improve outcomes for their children. We believe that anyone who can work should be in employment, training or looking for a job. The welfare system will always be there for people who need it but long term welfare dependency can become a trap leading to a life of limited outcomes and limited choices.

The number of people on welfare for the June quarter is the lowest since 2008. 1,600 people go off welfare and into work every week. There are 16,000 fewer people on welfare compared to June 2013, and sole parents are leading the way with a 10.7 percent drop. There are 30,000 fewer children living in benefit dependent households than there were two years ago

Beneficiaries are getting the support they need to get into work including childcare, training and workplace support. We introduced social obligations for beneficiaries with children to ensure children in benefit dependent households are not missing out. They will ensure that around 220,000 children:

  • Attend 15 hours a week in ECE from age three
  • Attend school from age five or six
  • Are enrolled with a GP/PHO
  • Have WellChild/Tamariki Ora checks.

Food in schools

Every school that wants it has access to a free breakfasts programme. The Government has invested $7 million a year to Fruit in Schools – 400 schools, 96,000 children (decile 1-2) and $9.5 million over five years to Kick Start – 570 schools, over 400,000 breakfasts per year.

Support for vulnerable children

We have developed Children’s Teams which bring together frontline professionals and NGOs from health, education, welfare and other agencies to provide wraparound services for children and their families. We have two teams in Rotorua and Whangarei up and running and 8 more are being rolled out over the next year.

Child assaults are trending downwards – by 2 percent in the last year – but we need to do more to reach the ambitious target we set ourselves. We aim to reduce physical assaults on children by 5 percent by June 2017.

In 2011 we allocated more than $11 million each year to expand the Social Workers in Schools (SWiS) programme to cover over all 670 decile 1-3 schools. At the end of 2013 about 142,000 children had access to a social worker. In 2009 National introduced the Social Workers in Hospitals initiative.  There are now social workers in every DHB in the country.

ECE

National believes education provides the opportunity for any child from any background to get ahead and make the most of their life. It is vital they get the best start possible to their education career. Our spending on ECE has almost doubled from over $800 million in 2007/08 to $1.5 billion in 2013/14.

Extra Budget 2014 funding will support an estimated 5,800 more of our youngest children to access quality ECE by June 2018. And the $53.6 million boost to the subsidy rates will also help keep fees affordable for parents. Participation in ECE continues to increase with 95.9 percent of new school entrants having taken part in ECE in the year to March. This represents another 3,839 kids since mid-2011.

At school level, we introduced National Standards so children who are falling behind can get the extra support they need.

1. Address the barriers which hinder isolated and vulnerable people (such as disabled people, ethnic and rural communities) from fully participating in and contributing to our society.

People of all ethnicities make valuable contributions to New Zealand’s our communities, our economy, and they have a significant role to play in our future. National is committed to addressing the barriers that prevent our ethnic communities from fully participating in and contributing to our society. We have ensured the SuperGold card info has been translated into Chinese, Hindi, Punjabi, Gujarati, Korean, Samoan and Tongan, we have expanded the Language Line to provide telephone interpreting in 44 languages to 90 public sector organisations and more recently to the private sector, and we are connecting ethnic business people and other SMEs through EPIC and ETHNICA annual conferences.

To support the integration of migrant communities into the workplace we have established workshops for local businesses to promote the value of diversity in the workplace, and programmes to increase cultural awareness with organisations and City Councils. The Office of Ethnic Affairs also runs leadership workshops to help members of ethnic communities build on their skills and prepare them for leadership positions out in the community.

National wants people with disabilities to get the support and freedom they need to lead fulfilling lives. We have put in place a number of initiatives to improve services for disabled people and their families. We’ve given more people the choice about how to spend their support funding, and the freedom to live how they choose.

Budget 2014 confirmed a range of measures to support New Zealanders who live with disabilities, including:

  • New operating funding of $6 million over four years to provide vocational support services to school leavers with disabilities who are entering the Very High Needs Scheme.
  • $3.8 million in new operating spending over 2014/15 to 2016/17 to extend the Enabling Good Lives disability support approach for the Waikato region.
  • New operating funding of $6 million over four years to establish a body to promote New Zealand sign language.

Those in the Very High Needs Scheme are likely to have a significant level of physical, intellectual or sensory impairments – or a combination of these – and have significant difficulties with learning, hearing, vision, mobility, language and communication. Our new funding will help them to transition from school to adult life.

The funding for the Enabling Good Lives approach will transform the disability support system in Waikato in a similar way to the approach currently in place in Christchurch, where those with disabilities can live independently. We’ve also established a full-time Disability Rights Commissioner and funded the Be.Accessible campaign which promotes positive attitudes towards those with disabilities.

The primary sector is the backbone of our economy with record exports of $37.7b in 2014. Our aim is to double our exports to $64b by 2025 by opening new markets & investing in smart technology & people. A new report estimates that in reaching our goal of an export double, there will be an extra 50,000 workers in the primary sector – over half of these workers will need a Level 4 or Tertiary Qualification. As a result we have set up two primary industry training academies to give the next generation the skills they need, introduced the Youth Guarantee Scheme, and revamped apprenticeships, all with the aim to encourage more young people to into further learning and building careers in our primary industries. We want to support the rural community, and have also introduced 360 Doctors, 2400 Nurses, 300 Midwives, 187 Vets since 2009 with $22m to support primary care services in rural areas. We have also expanded the National Depression Initiative to include voices from rural communities, invested in improving rural drinking water supplies, rolled out rural broadband and invested $212 million to accelerate 14 important regional state highway projects across the country.

National is committed to continuing to roll out support programmes that help disabled people live independently and have a voice in our communities.

  • Ensure that the long-term impacts on people and the environment are taken into account when developing policies to ensure social, economic and environmental sustainability.

 

New Zealand’s environment is at the core of our quality of life, our national identity, and our competitive advantage. Public conservation land and oceans provide New Zealanders with economic, environmental, and recreational opportunities. Access to them underpins our Kiwi way of life.

 

We recognise that as policy makers we have an important job in getting the balance right between economic development and protection.

 

That’s why National believes that successful economic and environmental policy can, and must, go hand in hand to provide a cleaner and brighter future for all New Zealanders. At the heart of our approach are the principals of environmental sustainability and conservation – meeting the needs of the present generation whilst protecting and preserving our environment for generations to come.

 

Our “Bluegreen” approach is underpinned by the belief that sensible resource management can, and must, go hand-in-hand with faster economic growth and job creation.

 

Conservation relies on a nation being healthy and wealthy as there is a direct correlation between the GDP of a country and their conservation spending.

 

Environmental performance globally is increasingly constrained by poor economic performance, limiting the scope and timing of improvements. If a country is more affluent, their ability and willingness to spend on the natural environment will increase.

 

Without a strong economic and financial base it is not just the environment that suffers, but other natural ecosystems that house iconic native species, such as the Kiwi.

 

Given the significant role economic policy and economic growth play in conservation and environmental preservation, the National-led Government have worked hard every day to steer the country through tough financial times, while building a more productive and competitive economy – one of National’s priorities this term.

 

Jobs and wages are growing and we have one of the highest growth rates among the world’s developed economies. Our better public services are supporting the most vulnerable. Export figures are high, inflation is low. We’re on track to surplus and fewer New Zealanders think the future’s brighter in Australia.

 

The challenge now is to continue to build on this momentum so we have consistent and sustained economic performance that really lifts the opportunities for and incomes of New Zealanders over the longer term.

 

We are also committed to science and evidence-based decision making.

 

Whether it is the difficult issues over Maui’s dolphin, drilling for oil and gas, or marine farming, we want our policy based on a rational assessment of effects and risks.

 

National have a strong record of better environmental management.

 

In our first four years of government we publically consulted, committed, and introduced the first ever National Policy Statement (NPS) on Freshwater; spent $101 million on water clean-up; and have also committed over $350 million to water clean-ups of iconic New Zealand waterways to future-proof our most important natural resource.

 

We’ve also announced clear, robust national standards for water quality that will make significant improvements to the way freshwater is managed.

 

Budget 2014 continues our hard work by investing $3.2 million for the better environmental management of our oceans; $26 million in the Community Conservation Partnership; and $26.5 million over four years to protect our kauri.

 

National is committed to complete a record number and area of marine reserves, advance legislation for comprehensive independent environmental reporting, expand pest control by 500,000 hectares to protect our native species, and continue working towards 90 per cent renewable electricity by 2025.

 

We are committed to balancing our environmental responsibilities with economic opportunities to preserve and protect our natural environment, now, and for the future.

 

  1. Strong Communities need Strong Community Organisations

 

  1. Make a commitment that all planning work that involves community and community organisations is a “partnership planning process”, and needs to engage all the partners in the design stage, as well as during the actual work.

 

National recognise the vital role community organisations play in our society, including social services, sports, arts, education, emergency services, conservation, housing and other areas. The community and voluntary sector makes a substantial economic, social and cultural contribution to New Zealand.

 

New Zealand provides an enabling environment for civil society, for instance in terms of human rights protections, freedom of assembly, propensity to volunteer, legal frameworks, and civil society participation in policy. New Zealand was ranked the number one country on the international 2013 Enabling Environment Index, compiled by CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation.

 

The National-led government and community organisations are working hand in hand to enable better services and results for communities across New Zealand. Increasingly, government is looking to develop collaborations and partnerships with external organisations, based on respect and openness. This partnership approach involves joining up with one or more organisations to accomplish mutual goals, such as shared services; share resources, risks and benefits; and make decisions together.

 

The Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector is the focal point for the sectors engagement with central government. The portfolio aims to support strong community-government relationships and grow the capacity and capability of the sector, through policy initiatives and providing grants and advice to community groups.

 

Under National, support for social enterprise development is a key focus of the portfolio – working with other government agencies, social enterprise networks, the private sector and philanthropy to consider policy barriers and ways to grow social enterprise. Nearly all government agencies engage with the community and voluntary sector, for instance, to obtain views on policy issues, or to fund community-based services.

 

Internal Affairs, for example, has 77 community advisors based in 16 regional offices around the country. They administer grants and advise community organisations on such matters as effective governance, operational practices, planning and funding projects, and developing collaborative partnerships.

 

The Department’s Community-Led Development pilot is also looking at ways to build community capability to take charge in addressing local issues.

 

  1. Formally declare that advocacy – “speaking for” – is part of the very essence of community organisations, and that this role is valued by Government as an essential element of a strong community and nation.

 

National values the contribution the community sector makes. We recognise that the work they do helps to make our communities stronger and more resilient – and ultimately helps New Zealand.

 

We believe the community sector is best-placed to know how they can make a real difference in our communities. That’s why government agencies are actively looking at ways to enhance their community interfaces.

 

The Kia Tūtahi Relationship Accord, signed in 2011, is an important symbol of commitment between government and communities to engage effectively to achieve social, economic and environmental outcomes. It sets expectations about how government agencies and communities will work together.

 

For instance, the Department of Conservation has a priority focus on increasing engagement with councils, iwi, business and communities to achieve collaborative delivery of conservation programmes. That’s why we’ve invested $26 million in a Community Conservation Partnership Fund to support the work of voluntary organisation undertaking natural heritage and recreation projects.

 

Our commitment to supporting the community and voluntary sector is further outlined in Section 3, viii.

 

 

  1. Place Treaty-based values and processes at the centre of all policy development and delivery, and measure and report on them.

 

The National-led government takes seriously its responsibilities to act consistently with the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi, especially in regard to policy that may affect Maori.

Some agencies have legislative requirements to actively engage with Maori on specified matters. Others have signed relationship protocols, accords or similar agreements that specify the nature, scope and parameters of engagement with specific iwi.

National instituted the Constitution Conversation – a wide-ranging review of constitutional arrangements – as part of its confidence and supply agreement in government with the Māori party.

The Constitutional Advisory Panel which facilitated the conversation canvassed the role of Te Tiriti/the Treaty as well as the role of international human rights instruments in our constitutional arrangements. It unsurprisingly found a range of opinions on these matters. Its report can read here http://www.ourconstitution.org.nz/Latest-News

National supports the Panel’s conclusion that the nation should continue its conversation on these important issues.

  1. A Capable and Sustainable Community Sector

 

  • Recognise the difference between purchasing social services and purchasing capital items, and work with the community sector to develop a fair and value-focused approach to procuring social services.

 

National has continued to work to improve government-wide procuring services as part of our plan of delivering better public services – one of our four key priorities this term.

 

The Government Procurement Reform programme aims to improve public service procurement and create an environment in which New Zealand businesses can succeed.

 

The Government Rules of Sourcing, launched in 2013, improves the way the Government does business with suppliers by making agencies’ procurement practices more consistent and business-friendly. The principles of government procurement require agencies to be fair to all suppliers, to give New Zealand suppliers a full and fair opportunity to compete, and make it easy for all suppliers (large and small) to do business with the government.

 

Under the Rules of Sourcing, businesses will get more information about government procurement opportunities and have longer timeframes for responding to tenders. This means they should have more time to put together a response or collaborate with other businesses to submit a joint response.

The rules also promote greater use of model tender documents and contracts, which will reduce time and money that suppliers spend responding to tenders. These changes will be particularly helpful for small and medium-sized enterprises.

 

The new rules and supporting guidance from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment encourage agencies to seek innovative solutions and award new intellectual property to the party that is best placed to commercialise it. This should give businesses more opportunities and incentive to develop new products or services that enable them to grow and enter new markets.

 

The emphasis on getting value for money over the whole life of the goods or services will allow better opportunities for New Zealand suppliers, as local delivery and support costs are likely to be significantly lower for them than for international competitors.

 

Other initiatives assisting New Zealand businesses include:

  • The Government Electronic Tender Service (GETS), a free service that supplies information about NZ Government contract opportunities.  GETS promotes open, transparent and fair competition
  • Meet the Buyer events, an opportunity for businesses to meet with large purchasing organisations.  Buyers and Sellers have 15 minutes to present their needs and possible goods or services solutions to address them. The meeting is purposefully kept short to be a springboard for further discussion.
  • The Procurement Advisory Industry Capability Network at NZ Trade and Enterprise, which helps New Zealand companies increase their strike rate in large contracts and complex supply chains, including government procurement.
  • Regional Business Partners, which have specialist business advisors who are available to meet with businesses and work with business owners and/or key managers to identify needs and opportunities to grow the business.
  • Callaghan Innovation charged with accelerating commercialisation of innovation by firms in New Zealand,
  • NZ Trade and Enterprise to help New Zealand businesses grow bigger, better, faster in international markets, and
  • www.business.govt.nz  which provides free access to a wide range of resources. It acts as a gateway to government and private sector business information, news and services.

 

 

  • Develop and implement a whole-of-government strategy to support and build sector capability, and provide the investment and resources to achieve this.

 

A whole-of-government strategy to support and build sector capability already exists – as outlined in Section 3, xi.

 

National has been focussed on championing social enterprise in government. We’ve recently announced a Government position statement on social enterprise which acknowledges the value of the growing social enterprise sector and supports collaborative action to ensure social enterprises meet their full potential.

 

We recognise that by combining social goals and business methods, social enterprise has the potential to play a significant role in New Zealand’s social innovation and economic development – that’s why we’ve recently announced $1.27 million investment in the development of a solid support infrastructure for emerging social enterprises.

 

The Government is partnering with the Ākina Foundation, a registered charity leading the way in supporting start-up social enterprises, to enhance support of social enterprises. The Ākina Foundation will receive $1.12 million over the next two years to help build a national social enterprise incubation and development service to provide expert support, resources, and one-on-one advice from bases in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

 

The Foundation will also be provided a grant – funded in partnership with Contact Energy – which will fund an accelerator pilot supporting 10 promising social enterprise initiatives. It is encouraging to see private enterprises sharing their resources and expertise to support this innovative initiative.

 

Additionally, we’re committed to initiatives including Community Organisation Grants, the Community Internship Programme, and the Support for Volunteering Fund that support the heart of the community and voluntary sector – our volunteers.

 

Community Organisation Grants Scheme (COGS) is a government-funded community driven scheme to support community groups with a total of $12.5 million to distribute through New Zealand. There are 37 local distribution committees throughout New Zealand who assess funding applications and decide which non-profit community organisation will receive a grant.

 

We’ve provided $229,797 in funding for the Community Internship Programme (CIP), helping hapū, iwi or community groups to employ skilled professionals as interns to help them meet clearly identified objectives. By focussing on skill-sharing and the exchange of knowledge between sectors, the programme provides wins for everyone involved, while building on-going relationships which continue after an internship ends.

 

National is committed to backing our kiwi volunteers through the Support for Volunteering Fund which distributes $502,000 each year to Volunteering New Zealand, regional volunteer centres, and volunteering projects.

 

 

  1. Develop and adopt fully-funded models for contracted work.

 

A range of initiatives are already underway to improve government funding practices.

 

Work is underway on the Department’s grants and client management system, to make grants easier to apply for and more accessible online through one portal.

 

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment is rolling out a new “streamlined contracting” approach to government agencies that contract with community organisations.

 

The Ministry of Social Development’s initiatives include Investing in Services for Outcomes (which includes work to consolidate and reduce the number of contracts providers have with the Ministry), high trust contracts, and work to integrate contracts where there are multiple funding government agencies.

 

The Department is also exploring the potential for government agencies to seek social returns through commercial procurement processes.

 

  1. Make a greater investment in research and evaluation so that individual organisations and the community sector as a whole knows what works and what is not working.

 

We recognise that evaluation about the effectiveness of policy and the management of challenges facing agencies is important. That’s why we’ve introduced the Community-led development pilot, giving communities control of their development process. We’re focussed on prioritising a community-led approach as a review of Crown funded schemes showed that greater changes and more enduring outcomes for communities, hapu and iwi can be achieved through further investment in community-led development.

 

The pilot is designed to involve the whole community – including business organisation, iwi, neighbourhoods, local and central government agencies working in the community, and NGO’s. Under the model communities get together to decide on their issues and concerns and what strengths they have that they can build on to meet some of those challenges.

 

Additionally, the Department of Internal Affairs as lead agency is working towards an assessment in 2015 of government’s engagement with communities.

 

National remains committed to growing the capacity and capability of the sector, through policy initiatives and providing grants and advice to community groups.

 

 

  1. Recognise the value and scope of the community sector. We need a ‘go-to’ place within government to ensure cross-sector work happens within government, not just in our sector.

 

Community groups are the backbone of our sports and social groups, emergency service organisations, conservation, and the arts and cultural sector. These institutions, and the people who are part of them, make a significant contribution to New Zealand society and the economy.

 

The Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector is the focal point for the sectors engagement with central government. The portfolio aims to support strong community-government relationships and grow the capacity and capability of the sector, through policy initiatives and providing grants and advice to community groups.

 

The Department of Internal Affairs provides advice to the Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector and to government on key strategic policy issues facing the Community and Voluntary sector; community development and community resourcing issues; and the community perspective on key inter-agency projects.

 

The Department also provides strategic advice as required to the Lottery Grants Board and works closely with other government departments which have an interface with the Community and Voluntary Sector.

 

The Community, Voluntary and Sector Policy team (formerly known as the Office for the Community and Voluntary Sector) provides cross-sector policy development and advice to the Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector and to government on the community and voluntary sector at the national policy level.

 

Better support is now available for community groups through the ‘new look’ CommunityNet Aotearoa website. The site draws together the huge variety of resources available to the sector and has been tailor-made in response to customer feedback on the previous site. The new site can be found at www.community.net.nz

 

  • Commit resources to Statistics New Zealand to update the 2004 Non Profit Institutions Satellite Account.

 

Statistics New Zealand has recently decided to update its official measure of the not-for-profit sector, building on the data collected a decade ago in the Satellite Account: 2004.

 

Due to the diversity of the not-for-profit sector it is estimated that the project will take around 18 months. Statistics NZ will keep the not-for-profit sector informed on their progress.

 

National commend Statistics NZ for taking on this fairly large, but important review. The update will give a more accurate picture of the size, structure, and economic contribution of non-profit institutions, including how many there are, how many people they employ, and the level of volunteer input.

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