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Building strong communities

$1.6 million has been set aside in the Budget for a pilot scheme in 2000/01 giving local communities greater control over the way social services operate in their area, Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey announced today.

Mr Maharey made the announcement while meeting with community social services providers in Napier this afternoon. The funding will enable up to six communities from around New Zealand to trial devolved decision-making and resource distribution. The pilot programmes fit with the Government's plans to work in partnership with communities in the provision of effective services which respond to local pressures and priorities. Mr Maharey said pilot communities would be evaluated at the end of the trial and it was hoped that the best options can be progressively expanded across the country.

"Partnership with local communities has great potential to significantly improve the quality and range of social services available to New Zealanders.

"Up to six communities will be assisted through these pilots to trial how partnership works in practice. Child, Youth and Family will support the communities as they develop their own approaches to decision-making, representation and allocation of funds to services.

"Pilot communities will be a mix of urban, provincial and rural locations and will include at least two Mäori communities.

"There are many successful international examples of devolved funding we can draw on here in New Zealand, including the New Deal for Communities in the UK and local employment initiatives in Australia.

"The pilot schemes will complement the work of the community and voluntary sector working group I announced last month and signal our clear intention to get Government working much closer with communities delivering tailored services to meet locally-identified needs," Steve Maharey said.

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