Marlborough Express - Public spending hitting target

Columns
Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Having lived in the electorate for 20 years, I know how fortunate we are to enjoy excellent schools, healthcare and other services.

But I'm well aware there's always room for improvement and it's the Government's job to make sure that those services keep improving through careful, considered public spending.

It's also their job to make sure you, the taxpayer, see clear and positive results of that spending.
Each year, the Government invests $70 billion to address these social issues because, in the long term, it will reduce costs to the taxpayer.

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Hon Bill English calls it "purchasing results": By spending money now on getting people off the benefit, reducing crime and keeping our kids in schools, we will achieve lower costs to taxpayers in the future.

Already, welfare dependency has fallen.

For former beneficiaries and their families, this means positive changes have been made in their lives, making them less vulnerable and more resilient. It means better outcomes not only for them, but for every taxpayer.

This underlies better public service.

In the past, it has been thought that the best thing to do when there is an issues is throw money at it.

We've taken a different approach, where we're actually looking for a result: we're looking for some tangible, measurable improvement and we've found that if you take that approach, you can deliver more for less.

It's actually a very simple and sensible business model and it's what the private sector has to do every day to survive.

To achieve these improvements, three years ago the prime minister set 10 challenging targets for the public service to achieve over the next few years.

Some of these, like welfare, child abuse and crime, are extremely difficult and complex targets. But so far, we are tracking well.

We have more young people achieving higher qualifications and here in the Kaikoura electorate, figures show we have kids staying focused on their education: stand-downs have dropped 19 per cent since 2008, and suspensions have fallen 13.5 per cent.

Crime rates have also dropped nationally. This is good progress, but to see it decreased further would be better.

Tackling important social issues like this will save taxpayers money in the future and, more importantly, improve people's lives.

Our challenge is to keep progressing. There's still a lot of work to do and we will continue to focus on the things that matter to New Zealanders.

It's all part of our plan to build a brighter future and deliver better results for families.

Each year, the Government invests $70 billion to address these social issues because, in the long term, it will reduce costs to the taxpayer.