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Govt sharpens social investment focus on wellbeing

Govt sharpens social investment focus on wellbeing, seeks feedback

By Paul McBeth

May 7 (BusinessDesk) - Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni wants wellbeing at the heart of social investment and will gauge views on the approach and how data and information-sharing feeds back into that policy over the next three months.

The government will tomorrow send out letters to more than 1,500 non-government organisations, iwi entities and social service users inviting them to participate in a consultation on investing in social wellbeing and how to best use and protect people's data, Sepuloni said at today's post-Cabinet press conference. The dual consultation run by the Social Investment Agency will be held at 28 locations, informing a draft policy before the end of the year which will be reviewed and finalised in 2019.

"The issue with the social investment policy is generally people didn't understand it, there was no consultation on it, and it was driven by concern for fiscal liability," Sepuloni said. "This government is focused on wellbeing, redefining what the previous government had with social investment, with our focus being investing for social wellbeing."

The social investment programme of the previous administration used an actuarial approach to determine the long-term liability of various social problems to then target spending to reduce that cost but attracted criticism from social agencies by linking funding to the sharing of data.

Sepuloni stressed there won't be a data-for-funding regime, which "was a failure and caused a lot of distrust publicly", and that it is important to rebuild trust with NGOs and service users into how the government uses information and shares it.

That data won't simply be large databases, but also qualitative information such as client experiences and human interactions, she said.

The Social Investment Agency will start engaging with the sector on May 31, and Sepuloni said the consultation will run until August.

The data side of consultation seeks to build "a combination of principles, protocols, guidance, and potentially digital tools" to help people easily understand what's the appropriate use of personal information, the agency's website said.

The social wellbeing approach has four key elements: putting people at the heart of the approach; making better use of a wide range of information including analytics and people's experience; developing strong partnership and trust; and providing clear goals and robust measurements.


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