Finance Minister Grant Robertson used today’s Budget Policy Statement to give a first taste of how the Labour-led government will report on quality of life as well as traditional fiscal and economic indicators.
Based on the initial publication last week of a draft Living Standards Framework, the key measures used show that “at an aggregate level, New Zealanders have high levels of wellbeing”, Robertson says in the BPS.
“Relative to other OECD countries, we feel socially connected, well-governed and enjoy a clean environment. We are a healthy, well-educated population with increasing material standards of living.”
However, the outlook also helps highlight that “too many young people are still not in education, employment or training” and that the benefits of strong economic growth are not being shared equally.
“In other areas as diverse as the quality of our rivers or levels of loneliness, there is a need for significant improvement.”
The government is seeking to use the wellbeing focus to decide its annual Budget priorities, which Robertson summarised as:
- Economic policies that assist “transition to a sustainable and low-emissions economy”;
- Ensure access to and development of digital technology;
- Lifting Maori and Pacific peoples’ incomes, skills and opportunities;
- Reducing child poverty and improving wellbeing, including reduced family violence; and
- Mental health initiatives, targeted particularly at under 24 year-olds.
The intention to embed the wellbeing focus in government policy-making is also occurring through intended changes to the Public Finance Act and State Sector Act to require wellbeing reporting and policy effort.
That will include requiring more collaborative policy development among agencies that might otherwise work independently of one another, or compete with one another for resources.