Robertson signals 2019 ‘Wellbeing Budget’

In his speech to the Labour Party conference this weekend Minister of Finance Grant Robertson has pre-labelled his next year budget as a ‘Wellbeing Budget’.

Budget 2018 was called Foundations for the Future, and I am proud of what we are building. But, there is more to do. More to do to build an economy that is fit for purpose for the middle part of the 21st century; an economy that is focused on future generations: more productive, more sustainable and more inclusive.

To that end, in Budget 2019 we are making a significant change that will embody our values. Budget 2019 will be New Zealand’s first Wellbeing Budget.

It will be the first budget with that label, but it won’t be the first budget by a long shot that has tried to improve the wellbeing of New Zealanders.

Last year, and the year before that (and the year before that), I have spoken about the limitation of tracking our success on a narrow measure such as GDP growth. Well, now we are doing something about it. We are moving beyond GDP to not just look at our financial health, but also the wellbeing of our people, the health of our environment and the strength of our communities.

As the Minister of Finance I will report on all of those measures at Budget time, including on how we are tracking at reducing child poverty.

It is essential that this is based on a robust and credible framework. At the core of our approach will be the Living Standards Framework developed by the Treasury, based on the work of the OECD. It is grounded in core economic concepts to assess the stock of our wellbeing. So, you will hear about financial capital, human capital, natural capital and social capital.

Next month the Treasury will release its first Living Standards Dashboard. This will show a range of indicators of our current wellbeing as a nation. It includes the tangible, like incomes and home ownership, but also the intangible like life satisfaction and cultural wellbeing. It is a work in progress. We need to make sure it is truly reflective of Aotearoa New Zealand, and all that makes us unique. It will evolve over the coming years. But it is a great start to a new way of thinking about what counts as success.

The Living Standards Framework is designed to outlive any particular Government. It will be a critical input to our Wellbeing Budget, but it will not be the only one. We are using the Child Wellbeing Strategy, evidence from here and overseas about intergenerational success and the advice of experts such as government science advisors.

And that is the critical difference in our Wellbeing Budget. Not only are we going to measure our success differently, we are putting our Budget together on a wellbeing basis as well.

We have identified five core priorities that will define our first Wellbeing Budget. I will announce the detail of these during the Budget Policy Statement next month, but they cover the areas where we think the outcomes will make a substantive difference to both our current and future wellbeing.

These priorities will include sustainably growing and modernising our economy, lifting children’s wellbeing, and yes, we will finally be giving mental health the priority and focus that it deserves.

As we speak, my Ministerial colleagues are working together to produce initiatives that will be squarely focused on long-term intergenerational outcomes. This means we are breaking down the silos of government to form a long-term view.

And we have already started.

He gives some examples.

When we first came into Government we faced a decision about what to do with Waikeria Prison. We were told that we should build a 2,500 bed American mega-prison because it had the cheapest per-prisoner cost. But maybe, just maybe, we could do better if built a smaller prison, with a mental health unit attached to address the underlying causes. And if we focused on more drug and alcohol rehabilitation and more on prisoner housing to support re-integration. That is what we have done and that is a wellbeing approach.

Better mental health support and drug and alcohol rehabilitation have been talked about for a long time, and attempts had been made to address these issues more effectively, but of course better can be done if adequate resources are made available. It will cost more initially, but as Bill English used to promote, it is a social investment that will pay dividends in the longer term.

And just this week the Prime Minister, Phil Twyford and Kelvin Davis announced a once-in-a-generation community renewal in Porirua. Now, this could have been a project just to build more houses, but we see it as a major integrated urban development plan – including education, recreation, social services, and yes, lots of houses. And delivered in partnership with iwi and local council. That is a wellbeing approach.

Al of those things are done now, but perhaps it is new to take an integrated approach to a whole community renewal at the same time.

And we are serious about embedding this approach. Chris Hipkins and I are both working on the most fundamental change to the State Sector and Public Finance legislation in thirty years. This will ensure that collaboration and wellbeing is embedded in how our government agencies work.

Again i don’t think this general approach is new, but if more emphasis is put on improving the wellbeing of people then it could make a real difference – as long as they can avoid getting bogged down with bureaucracy and they can break cycles of dependency.

So delegates, 2019 will be the Wellbeing Budget, and the first steps in changing our yardstick of success.

With finances looking healthy it is a good opportunity to invest (spend more) to achieve longer term gains in wellbeing and in costs of providing state care and assistance.

We will get a better idea of what Robertson is aiming at next May when his ‘wellbeing budget’ is announced.

However if he gets the targets and balances right it may be years if not a decade before the results will be apparent. Wise investments take time.

Full transcript of Robertson’s speech:

http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA1811/S00028/grant-robertson-speech-to-labour-party-conference.htm

Leave a comment

26 Comments

  1. Blazer

     /  November 4, 2018

    Heading in the right direction and refreshing acknowledgement that life is more than just how many $ can I accumulate at ..any cost to others .

    Reply
    • Bill English and National were already heading in this direction. Robertson and Labour are building on that. The trick will be in investing wisely, and not trying to rush it to meet election marketing deadlines.

      Reply
      • Blazer

         /  November 4, 2018

        When it comes to significant change National are glacial…maintaining the status quo is what they are known for.

        National destroyed the Kiwi Dream,National are big on platitudes…’i do not want NZ’ers to become tenants in their own country’…yeah..right.!

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  November 4, 2018

          If you reverse the stated aims, nobody has ever advocated making people worse off, increasing child poverty, making mental health worse and being less sustainable, profitable and so on….this is just woffling and blah blah blah, all hui and no do-ey.

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  November 4, 2018

            *waffling – just saying 😉

            Reply
            • Kitty Catkin

               /  November 4, 2018

              It’s optional. Woffle.waffle in this context,

            • Gezza

               /  November 4, 2018

              I found it in the Urban Dictionary.
              woffle
              1. A word used to vaguely describe the noise made by a couple perfoming any form of sexual acts on each other under covers/duvets.
              Often used to describe it by someone that can hear them ‘woffling’.

              2. Can also be used to describe such sexual acts without going into too much detail..
              1. Girl-Shut up, you two. All I can hear is you two woffling around…!
              Couple-…sorry!

              2.Girl-What did you two get up to last night?!
              Other Girl-Just woffled around…
              – – – – – – –
              But ok, as you like.

      • robertguyton

         /  November 4, 2018

        English wasn’t headed in that direction. His was another direction altogether and one I’m pleased we’ve avoided travelling.

        Reply
  2. artcroft

     /  November 4, 2018

    I see from Kiwiblog that this means that “good looking” race horses are about to get a stable upgrade to assist their well being.

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  November 4, 2018

      don’t forget the Melbourne Cup on Tuesday..the race that stops 2 nations and gives unprecedented international exposure to both Melbourne and..Australia.

      Reply
    • Corky

       /  November 4, 2018

      Arty, in your line of work that ain’t a bad thing.

      Reply
    • High Flying Duck

       /  November 4, 2018

      the wonderful race horse policy brought in by Winston. Apparently all of 2 horses met the criteria in the last year. Seems like a worthwhile initiative.

      Reply
      • Blazer

         /  November 4, 2018

        a bit like Keys wonderful tax haven strategy …benefited his old lawyer and a handful of other …’good sorts’.

        Reply
  3. Corky

     /  November 4, 2018

    The bottom line for Grant is this: to maintain support, or capture undecided votes, beanies will be expecting big increases in their benefit rates. While Grant has signalled what COULD be good stuff…the bottom line is it wont buy his supporters KFC, petrol and beer…will it?

    Reply
  4. robertguyton

     /  November 4, 2018

    “It will be the first budget with that label, but it won’t be the first budget by a long shot that has tried to improve the wellbeing of New Zealanders.” A bit snippy this morning, Pete. Clearly, Robertson believes this budget will be significantly concerned with wellbeing, more so than any before ti, hence “first”. But you don’t. Despite not having seen it. You seem only ever to give praise to the Government, when at the same time you cover yourself with “riffs” and “buts”. Loosen up, Pete. Enjoy the Goodness that is this Green/NZ1/Labour Government! Leave out the Eeyoring.

    Reply
    • robertguyton

       /  November 4, 2018

      “riffs” – that’d be great! I mean’t “iffs” – spellcheck thought otherwise.

      Reply
    • Past prime Ministers (say, like Michael Savage) may argue with the ‘first’ claim for addressing wellbeing. Helen Clark and Michael Cullen also with Work For Families. Even the last National government raised benefits for the first time in decades.

      Reply
      • Blazer

         /  November 4, 2018

        ‘ Even the last National government raised benefits for the first time in decades.’

        to make up for ‘Ruthenasia’…National the first Govt to reduce benefits in…decades.

        Tokenism is all National come up with.

        Reply
      • robertguyton

         /  November 4, 2018

        Past Prime Ministers…may argue that Robertson’s isn’t the first , or they could support the claim, give it credit, refrain from Eeyoring it for no good reason, I reckon.

        Reply
    • Pink David

       /  November 4, 2018

      Perhaps you should just replace Pete with a Green Party press release?

      Reply
  5. High Flying Duck

     /  November 4, 2018

    Reply
  6. PartisanZ

     /  November 4, 2018

    Labour and Labour-led are generally wearing their positivity really well …

    Combine a ‘Wellbeing Budget’ with a 2019 Reeferendum announcement and a few other progressive changes and they’ve got it made in 2020.

    Reply
    • Corky

       /  November 4, 2018

      No, they haven’t got it made. But if National don’t replace their lame-duck leader, and given Robertson is the ‘good news messiah’ at the moment, yeah, I’d have to admit Labour would be sitting pretty.

      Reply
  7. PDB

     /  November 4, 2018

    RNZ October 2018: “Consumer confidence drops to lowest level in three years”

    RNZ November 2018: “NZ business confidence dips to nine-year low”

    Not much ‘wellbeing’ is going to be happening if the economy continues to trend downwards and costs continue to rise.

    Reply
  1. Robertson signals 2019 ‘Wellbeing Budget’ — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition

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