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Government Continues Investment In Social Policies

14 July 2002

The government is investing an additional $2.5 million over the next four years to improve social policy research and advice, Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey said today.

The funding will establish a permanent secretariat for the Social Policy Research and Evaluation (SPEaR) committee, scholarship and exchange programmes and a new website which will act as a clearinghouse for social policy information available on the web. A major social policy conference, postponed because of the early election, will also take place next year.

Steve Maharey said efforts to build a more inclusive and properous society will fail unless real effort is put into building a proper evidence base to drive social policy decisions and future investments.

“Labour has put investment in social policies to the forefront of the government’s programme, following a decade in which National ignored these issues.

“We want to continue to be a government strongly focused on investing in social areas - but like all New Zealanders our funds are limited. We must make sure that new programmes actually reach those most in need and that they target the issues which are holding them back.

“It is widely recognised that there are currently areas of social policy where our evidence base to make investment decisions is inadequate and that there is a general lack of research and information available.

“The new funds for social policy research projects are modest, but we are confident that they will have a big impact. The funding will be used by the Ministry of Social Development, in partnership with more than twenty social agencies, to:

- establish a permanent secretariat for the SPEaR committee and enable it to take on cross-government coordination of government research endeavours;

- improve communication between social policy researchers and access to information by building a new website to link exisiting information on the web;

- establish scholarship and national and international exchange programmes to train more effective analysts and researchers, and to gain the benefits of direct exposure to acknowledged social policy experts; and

- offer data access scholarships to researchers based in non-government agencies and universities to reduce the costs they currently face.

“The major conference planned for this month on how to produce an effective evidence base for social policy decisions, postponed because of the early election, will also go ahead next March.

“New Zealand is a small country of only 3.8 million people. If we can get our social - as well as our economic - policies right we will all have a great future,” Steve Maharey said.

Ends


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