Prime Minister Bill English has announced there will be an additional $321 million spent on social investment initiatives in this month's budget, to be spread over four years.
The initiatives include:
• $28.1 million to expand Family Start, a home visiting programme;
• $34.7 million to support more children with behavioural issues;
• $6 million to help children with communication issues.
He also outline a new set of 10 public service targets which include having 90 per cent of pregnant women register with a lead maternity carer in their first trimester; reducing the number of hospitalisation for children aged 12 and under with preventable conditions; and improving the literacy and numeracy of children and focusing on higher achievement of students in year 8.
Another target will be to achieve a 20 per cent reduction in the time it takes to house priority clients on the social housing register.
English also indicated that the crime targets has been refashioned to now target the number of serious crime victims - reducing it by 10,000 - instead of focusing on the amount of reoffending.
English said the Government's top priority was to promote and encourage a strong economy.
"It is because of our growing economy and this Government's clear economic plan that we are now in a position to achieve things we hadn't thought possible 10 years ago, including tackling some of our most pressing social issues," he said in a speech in Wellington
English said that too often in the past Government success had been judged on how much they spent rather than what difference that spending made to people's lives.
"Yet changing lives is the whole point.
"It's what drove me to enter Parliament and it's what drives me now as Prime Minister."
People often struggled to comprehend just how big New Zealand's social services were. The health sector was bigger than the dairy sector.
"If you add education, justice and welfare, that a $47 billion a year industry.
"We want to get that whole lot operating more efficiently and focused on what matters to New Zealanders."
Speaking about the increased funding for 14 social investment initiatives, English said that in the lead up to the Budget - on May 25 - said that where agencies could show their ideas would deliver significant results for New Zealanders and a long-run pay-off, they would be funded.
Agencies had to clearly answer three questions:
• What people and where?
• Who has the relationship to earn the trust of these people to change their lives?
• How do we know we are making a difference?
English said that increasingly, they were finding that programmes tailored to the need of quite small groups could have the biggest longterm impact.
He said $69m of the $321m would be provided to support children most at risk of long-term dysfunction.
It would also support another 1000 children with behavioural issues to improve their self-control.
New Zealand was a great place to live, but not just for the clean air.
"It's also for our sene of community, our view that a great country is one where children with a tough start will be supported so they can live good lives."