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Govt Launches New Chapter For 18,000 Social Services

Hon Carmel Sepuloni

Minister for Social Development and Employment

· Faster, clearer and more effective delivery of social support to communities

· Strengthening of social sector’s ability to respond to communities needs

· Government agencies to develop transformational plans about how to work more effectively with social services

· Governance group for social sector commissioning to drive transformation of commissioning

The Government has today launched the Social Sector Commissioning Action Plan 2022-2028, marking a significant and exciting shift in the way social services deliver suppport for people, whānau and communities in Aotearoa New Zealand.

“This shift provides a pathway for how we can fundamentally change the way government works with social services, so they can be supported to better help their communities,” Minister for Social Development and Employment Carmel Sepuloni said.

“Working toward a social sector that better serves our people and communities by improving how government commissions and works with social services is a key manifesto commitment, and today we’re delivering on that,” Carmel Sepuloni said.

“People, whānau and communities right across the country can expect to have their welfare needs met through social services that are responsive, whānau-centred and community-led and reflects their needs and aspirations.

“This work will transform the social sector at all levels. For people in need, this transformation will mean they know where to go for assistance and the support available is community-led. Their experience will also help to inform further improvements to the delivery of social services.

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“For our social services, these changes mean they can be sustainble, less focused on paper work and competition for funding, and more focused on supporting their communities with more flexiblility in responding to the unique and diverse needs of those accessing their services.

“And for government, it means we need to be transparent in how we commission and support social services, and work collaboratively to learn and grow in order to meet the needs of New Zealanders. It’s also about making sure our investment in the sector is going to the right people and places, as opposed to being tied up in administrative processes.

“This Action Plan is part of our welfare overhaul programme and is one step towards modernising our welfare system so that social sector organisations can support New Zealanders to live with dignity and deliver support where neccessary, without having to encounter unneccessary red-tape along the way.

“Underpinning this Action Plan and the starting point for transformation is Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the need for us to recognise and give practical effect to Te Tiriti. Māori-Crown partnerships must be at the heart of effective commissioning and this Action Plan will support iwi, hapū and whānau to create their own solutions, ensure equitable access, experiences and outcomes for Māori who work in the sector, and apply tikanga in a way that benefits the provision of support.

“Since work begun in 2018, there have been positive changes across government to improve commissioning. For instance, we’ve been working on extending contracts to provide more certainty and stability for non-government organisations. This means the average length of a contract is now 2.5 years, with contracts of three years or more making up 61 percent of contracts for 2020/21.

“The relational approach we’re taking isn’t something that is new. Te Aorerekura, The National Strategy to Eliminate Family Violence and Sexual Violence, for example, explicitly uses relational commissioning as a key lever to deliver better outcomes for people, their families, whānau and communities.

“On top of that, our response to COVID-19 has further underlined the important role social sector organisations play in supporting people. We saw communities come together to support their own, whether that be through the quick delivery of food parcels and hygiene packs or helping to provide income and hardship assistance. We want to see more of this, and this Action Plan supports that.

“It’s not just about improving government practice when commissioning social services, it’s also about strengthening the ties that brings together government, the sector, iwi, Māori and communities to support people and their whānau, including our disabled people, people experiencing mental illness, Māori and Pacific.

“This will be a new way of working together locally, regionally and nationally and will help to future-proof the sector so people, whānau and communities are provided with certainty during what can be an uncertain time for many,” Carmel Sepuloni said.

Click here to read the Social Sector Commissioning Action Plan 2022-2028


Summary of the Social Sector Commissioning Action Plan 2022-2028

  • We are transforming the way supports and services are commissioned, by championing a relational approach to commissioning. An approach where peoples’ aspirations, experiences, lived realities and goals shape the services or support they receive.
  • To enable the transformation, across the entire social sector, we have created a six-year Action Plan. The Action plan will:
    • work on removing current barriers that make a relational way of commissioning difficult
    • build on existing initiatives and successes, and support major social reforms underway
    • use continuous learning, monitoring and information sharing to ensure change.
  • Within government, agencies (or groups of agencies) will be accountable to the Social Wellbeing Board and Ministers for adopting a relational approach to commissioning within the scope of their responsibilities.
  • A Commissioning Hub has been established and will be responsible for supporting the implementation plan. It will facilitate the work and draw on relevant expertise from across the sector. The functional role of government commissioning remains within agencies.

The pathway to change will occur in three phases from mid-2022 till 2028.


1. Growing and extending

(mid 2022 – mid 2024)

This phase is focused on the vital work of facilitating new ways of working to emerge. It will raise key policy and operational questions, which will need to be worked through before progressing to the next step.
2. Sector-wide scale-up (2024 – 2028)Scale-up will require several years. The social sector is large, and change is often more challenging and time consuming than expected. Achieving change will require sustained stewardship across the sector.
3. Normalising practice (2028 onwards)The sector, individuals, whānau and communities will determine and make further changes to the social sector commissioning system.

This phasing allows the work to respond to learnings, prioritise effort and manage capacity considerations. Project reviews are scheduled to happen in mid-2024 and 2027, which will assess whether:

· the project is ready to move onto the next phase,

· the direction of change is leading to the required outcomes, and

· if we need to refine the planned actions.

  • We’ve invested overtime to build capability for social services: (these are just examples, not exhaustive)

ü In Budget 2018, we made an investment of $76 million over four years to support the delivery of MSD-funded family violence services.

ü In Budget 2019, we invested $24.9m to start to address cost pressures for all MSD funded social services providing a general uplift of 3.75% in baseline funding levels. For some providers this was the first increase in contract rates since 2007/08.

ü Budget 2019 invested $90.3 million over four years to more sustainably fund specialist sexual violence services.

ü Budget 2020 included an additional $9.7 million to ensuring continued access to building financial capability services.

ü Budget 2020 invested $142 million in ensuring continued access to specialist services for victims of family violence.

ü Budget 2022 had a further $21.0 million over two years to support Building Financial Capability providers who work with individuals and whānau to improve their financial capability and reduce their risk of financial hardship.

ü In 2020/21 it is estimated that between $6 and $7 billion went to NGOs for social services. In 2020/21 social sector government departments and Crown entities had at least 18,800 arrangements with NGOs

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