Finance Minister Bill English says there will be no new initiatives to address poverty in tomorrow's Budget New Zealand - despite the Prime Minister suggesting otherwise last month.
Previous commitments to focus on child poverty this term appear to have fallen victim to the deteriorating books.
Mr Key said in post-election interviews and this year that tackling poverty, "especially child poverty", was a priority for the Government.
Even in his pre-Budget speech, Mr Key stoked expectations that it would be a focus of the Budget: "We're particularly focused on breaking the cycle of material hardship among families with children - which I've made a Government priority for this term," he said under the heading of "next steps for Budget 2015".
Mr Key appears to have dropped the phrase child poverty and said this week there would be some support for "those suffering from material deprivation" in the Budget but there was a limited amount of resources.
Mr English said yesterday he had reduced the role of the Budget as the main driver of change in government and changes to funding were made throughout the year.
"We have got a process that goes all year of revising where our spending in going, shifting to where it is working, cutting back where it is less effective and reorganising services."
For instance, changes in the way the Government dealt with vulnerable children had been going for 18 months, he said.
"There will be more money in the Budget to feed the process but there won't be new initiatives because we are grinding through the hard bit of making changes in the way the government is organised."
He said the Budget would be "a fair and responsible Budget from a fair and responsible Government".
There had been over 70,000 new jobs in the past 12 months and in the past three years more than 40,000 children who had been in a "benefit household" now weren't.
Greens co-leader Metiria Turei challenged Mr Key in Parliament over his estimate that 60,000 to 100,000 children were living in poverty.
She said it was an "Oliver Twist" poverty measure when actually there were 200,000 children living in poverty in New Zealand every day.
Mr Key said the Ministry of Social Development had advised him of that number who were living in severe material hardship according to the material deprivation index.
Mr English confirmed on May 1 that the 2014-15 financial year would not make surplus as had been forecast since 2011, but that tomorrow's Budget for 2015-16 would forecast a small surplus.
He said there would also be more measures focused on increasing housing supply - thought to be around the development of further government-owned land in Auckland - but it would not be significant.
The Government had already made a range of housing announcements this year starting with the social housing reform in February and the tax measures on Sunday to address the Auckland market.
He dismissed a suggestion that he would be less proud of this Budget than the other six.
"With this Budget I am certainly proud of the consistency the Government has brought to the Budget process, the balance we have brought on economic growth, on fairness, on opportunity, and this Budget will be another one in a line of them."
What should tomorrow's Budget do?
Former Labour candidate
This Government promised to "lose weight" and sell more stuff to make us richer. It has failed. Maybe getting close to surplus is as good as reaching your ideal weight. But this will be National's seventh deficit in a row. Weight Watchers would want them off the publicity shots. I'm more worried about the second broken promise. We're still a First World country selling Third World products, with low wages to prove it. I want this Budget to be the economic upgrade the country needs. New Zealanders need to be paid better. A proper capital gains tax, with an offsetting cut in income tax, would be a good start. Time to stop flying the economy on autopilot.
NZ Herald columnist
John Key and Bill English threw in the surplus towel some months ago. Sensibly. To have slashed social spending even further to achieve what the Prime Minister has since conceded is an "artificial" target would have been gratuitous. The pre-announced volte-face on capital gains tax is at least a step in the right direction. Given the volume, both in noise and number, of pronouncements before the election promising a surplus and denouncing any suggestion of a beefed-up CGT, however, the Government has made a rod for its own back. Without something new, bold and imaginative tomorrow, this already looks like the Backflip Budget.
Council of Trade Unions president
This, the seventh National Government Budget, we predict will be bleak for workers. There is no vision to create quality jobs. Instead this Government is focused on creating more low-paid casual jobs. These jobs are insecure and do little to address the growing number of working poor. The hard truth is that workers are missing out and they certainly aren't getting their share. Our regions are suffering from a lack of investment and our public services, health, education, social housing and benefits are being stripped bare, increasingly privatised, and are so under-resourced that they are unable to meet the needs of the community.
Former Act leader
How do you apportion your spending between housing, food, clothes, travel and anything else you might buy? It will depend on your circumstances and preferences. A stranger knows neither, so he should not set your budget. Bill English is a stranger to most of us. Yet he decides how we apportion much of our spending - between education, healthcare, roads and so on. His arbitrary, one-size-fits-all decisions inevitably misallocate our spending. Mr English should slash Government spending and taxation, leaving us consumers to decide what we buy.
Find out on Friday what our panel thinks about tomorrow's Budget.