Social services brace for possible closure or cuts in ministry’s radical revamp.

Some agencies are expected to close in a radical revamp of social service funding unveiled by Social Development Minister Anne Tolley.

A new "community investment strategy", published yesterday, will focus most public funding of non-government social services on three priorities:

• Supporting vulnerable children and children in hardship and reducing maltreatment.

• Supporting vulnerable young people, including youth offenders, and reducing youth crime.

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• Supporting adult victims/survivors, addressing perpetrators' behaviour, and reducing violent crime.

The strategy covers funding worth $330 million a year out of the ministry's total of $600 million for non-government organisations (NGOs).

The other $270 million is for employment services, which are already subject to the ministry's "investment approach" targeting families and individuals who will cost taxpayers the most in future unless they get help.

Dave Henderson of the NGO umbrella group Hui E! Community Aotearoa said there was wide agreement on the three priorities and the need to review existing programmes.

"The department's services have grown like topsy." He pointed to a chart in a recent Productivity Commission report which listed 45 new programmes started over the past 10 years, including seven in one year.

"Every year they are adding programmes because they are someone's hobby horse, or because of lobbying, or because of media pressure, and they are not reviewing them."

But he warned that some NGOs would lose funding under the new strategy. Relationships Aotearoa has already said that it will close next week after its funding was reduced.

Ros Rice, of Community Networks Aotearoa, said fewer NGOs would be funded in future.

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A Cabinet paper said duplication would be "removed where it is found to exist unnecessarily, for example, if there are similar services with multiple providers in one location [such as budget services]."

Darryl Evans of Mangere Budgeting Service said services would accept the strategy as long as they had a chance to prove themselves.

"It would be good to see that funding be moved from services that are currently not delivering to services that are consistently delivering."

Major rethink

The past:

Social services "grew like topsy", e.g. 45 new programmes started in the past 10 years.

The future:
Most social services funding will be targeted towards three priorities: vulnerable children, vulnerable youth, reducing family violence.

On the web: msd.govt.nz