Adam Bennett

Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Budget 2014: Families win as housing, law take hits

Finance Minister Bill English. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Finance Minister Bill English. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Despite the fact the family-friendly features of yesterday's Budget don't kick in until later in the financial year, the social security and welfare, health, and education areas have soaked up most of the $1.49 billion in new core government spending.

It has been cut in law and order, including police and corrections, heritage, culture and recreation, housing and community development, and environmental protection.

Based on what Treasury expects will be actually spent in the current financial year to June 30, compared with what it expects will be actually spent in the 2014-15 year outlined in the Budget, social security and welfare spending rises $625 million to just under $24 billion.

Much of that is down to a $687 million increase in New Zealand Superannuation payments offset by small falls elsewhere, including in the Jobseeker Support and Emergency Benefit payments.

Health expenses rise by $176 million to $15.1 billion with payments to district health boards rising by $315 million offset by a $115 million fall in "non-departmental expenses" and a temporary $92 million fall in health payments to the Accident Compensation Corporation.

In education, the $416 million increase in spending is driven by a $195 million boost to primary and secondary education and $211 million extra for tertiary education.

The biggest losers were departments in the law and order grouping, where funding is to fall by $89 million to $3.49 billion. Police spending is expected to fall by $34 million to $1.4 billion, Ministry of Justice spending by $33 million to $450 million and Corrections by $22 million to $997 million.

Heritage, culture and recreation spending is expected to fall by $68 million to $770 million, while housing and community development spending is to fall by $51 million.

Head of Auckland's CORT Community Housing group Peter Jeffries said that while Housing Minister Nick Smith has announced a $30 million boost to the Social Housing Fund, that didn't kick in until the 2015-16 year and was spread over three years.

Public Service Association national secretary Brenda Pilott said that while most of the attention went on new spending initiatives "actually the bulk of Crown spending is just the ongoing operating costs and there's not a lot of movement there ... it's all pretty tight".

- NZ Herald

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