The coalition Government's first Budget delivered big for public services and social housing.

The health sector is a big winner - getting $3.2 billion extra for health services over four years.

The package includes cheaper doctor visits for more than 500,000 people, and free GP visits will be extended to 13-year-olds.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson also announced a large-scale state house building programme, and it's not before time.


The Government plans to spend $3.8b to build 6400 more state houses by 2022 - and $170 million for emergency housing. Insulation subsidies for low-income families was also announced.

It also plans to increase transitional housing by more than 200 places to reach a target of 2155 places to serve up to 34,000 families over four years.

The funding will be welcomed by those at the frontline dealing the impact of rising housing prices and a lack of housing in our region.

Homelessness has emerged as a significant issue in our region.

A one-night count of Rotorua's homeless earlier this year found 48 people sleeping rough in the city - not counting those being housed for the night by agencies.

According to the Ministry of Social Development, the number of Rotorua people on the social housing register rose from 43 in December 2015 to 143 in December 2017.

For years it seemed the central government ignored those caught on the wrong side of a property boom. Families who found themselves forced to live in cars, garages or lodge with family members were labelled the hidden homeless.

Often it fell on community and iwi groups to provide shelter to those who had fallen on hard times and had run out of options.


This Budget provides some hope that the plight of those priced out of the property market will finally be addressed.