A new board has been appointed to oversee welfare reforms planned with Work and Income and to report to key ministers on Work and Income's performance.

The Government would invest $1.1 million in the six-member board over the next four years.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett today announced the new Work and Income board members would oversee an "investment approach to welfare."

She said members of the board had experience in the insurance and finance industries which already use investment approaches to reduce future liability.


"The cost of today's total number of beneficiaries is estimated at $45 billion. It makes good economic and social sense to provide targeted support up front to get more people into work sooner," said Ms Bennett.

"This new approach will be embedded at all levels of the welfare system and the board will be responsible for ensuring accountability and overseeing the delivery of reforms that will see fewer people on welfare for long periods," she said.

Paula Rebstock would chair the board with five members appointed from outside the public service for 15 months - Ian McPherson, Kathryn McPherson, Andrew Body, Reg Barrett and Debbie Packer.

Ms Bennett said the board would advise and support the chief executive of the Ministry of Social Development in the implementation of welfare reforms and report to the Minister of Social Development, the Minister of Finance and the Minister of State Services on Work and Income's performance.

Ms Rebstock, the former chairwoman of the Commerce Commission, was appointed last week to investigate the leak to Labour of a cabinet paper from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.