Key health and social sector targets missed in Budget

Balancing the books of government when it comes to a pandemic Budget was never going to be an easy task.

I acknowledge the efforts the Government has made throughout Covid to keep businesses open and people employed.

After such significant spending, this was always going to be a disappointing Budget to some degree, and unfortunately it misses key health and social sector targets.

Health system reforms have been planned for some time, and now we see the cost of this is more than $11billion.

Meanwhile, there is no new significant funding for the direct delivery of health care to the vulnerable and most in need.

Although we welcome the $114.5million in targeted funding for family violence, which will benefit communities and generations across New Zealand, this Budget does nothing to broach the systemic wealth inequities which filter into the social system via such aspects as home ownership.

Nor does it address a lack of affordable, safe, secure, healthy, homes.

Unemployment is at its lowest in decades, yet foodbanks and budgeting services like ours continue to see new clients who earn in the middle-income range.

The reality is, families are struggling, beneficiaries are struggling, and this Budget does not go far enough in addressing the social determinants of health.

Critically, this Budget also ignores the importance of aged care: there is no additional funding to attract and retain the workforce needed.

Nurses in aged care earn significantly less than DHB nurses, which is an unsustainable situation.

Funding for this sector increases only minimally each year and is now insufficient to cover the actual costs of service delivery.

This is not a transformational budget and that is disappointing, especially for our most vulnerable New Zealanders.

Jo Rowe is chief executive of Presbyterian Support Otago and acting director of Enliven.

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