Māori housing and child poverty initiatives are tipped to be among the big-ticket items in tomorrow's budget, a Budget Finance Minister Grant Robertson has sold as the "recovery Budget".
Although careful not to give much away, Robertson and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern have both listed child wellbeing, climate change and affordable housing as priorities for the next three years.
The bulk of the housing announcements were made in March as the Government moved to try to slow down a rocketing property market, and major climate change investment is not expected until next year's Budget.
That is likely to see announcement around child poverty feature large in the Budget.
Ardern released the latest child poverty report last week, and said small improvements on some measures over the last few years showed the Government's interventions such as the Families Package were having some impact.
"However, there is still a group of children for whom life at home is quite different," Ardern said.
There was no pre-Budget announcement to accompany the numbers; instead, Ardern has told reporters to wait until the Budget for any detail.
Advocacy groups such as Auckland City Mission have been calling for a near doubling of benefit levels to get children out of poverty.
Child Poverty Action Group economics spokeswoman Susan St John said she hoped to see some transformative change this Budget, rather than the "tinkering" recently.
"There are other factors like a lack of affordable housing, families deep in debt. Some have fallen so far behind it will be a long time before their balance sheets are repaired. But we have to start somewhere.
On housing Robertson has said the Government's plans in the Budget in the Māori housing area will be "significant".
"We do know that Māori homeownership rates are much lower than the rest of the population so it is an area that we want to put focus on."
He added there had been calls to the Government to ensure it was making the best use of Māori land and that it's able to work with providers of Māori housing.
It appears that the significant Māori housing announcement will be the headline housing announcement of the Budget.
The Government announced a suite of housing policies in March, including an extension of the bright-line test and $3.8 billion for a housing infrastructure scheme.
Those announcements, Robertson said, were the "cornerstone" of the Government's housing approach this year.
It is Robertson's fourth budget, but the first he will deliver as the Finance Minister of a Labour majority Government.
Yesterday Robertson unveiling the cover of the Budget – which features an image of New Zealand from space – and has the title "securing our recovery" as the Government works on rebuilding after Covid-19.
"It is a recovery budget, focused on making sure the tremendous progress we have made over the last year [is] continued," Robertson said.
Both he and Ardern warned that the Government will continue to maintain a level of fiscal prudence when the numbers are revealed tomorrow.
However, Robertson also said that would not mean major cutbacks in spending.
Although the Government has identified climate change as a major area of focus, a major announcement is not expected in this area on Thursday.
The final report from the Climate Commission, along with its recommendations, won't be released until May 31 – more than a week after the budget.
Climate Change Minister James Shaw has said he hopes major funding to address this issue would come in Budget 2022.
Pre-budget announcements made so far:
• $200m for a tourism reset plan, which includes money to help diversify Queenstown's economy.
• $170m to help bring the pay of kindergarten teachers in line with primary and high school teachers.
• $67m for more low-emissions to support more low-emission cars and more alternatives to coal burners.
• $53m to fund a new self HPV test.
• $55m to revamp the Ministry of Health's IT system responsible for alerting women it's time for their breast screening.
• $3.8 billion for housing infrastructure to help the development of thousands of homes (this was meant to be included in the budget itself but was brought forward and announced in March).
- With reporting from Michael Neilson