The Families Commission will lose six out of seven of its commissioners under reforms proposed by the Government, and more than half of its budget will be redirected into a new research unit.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett announced the major shake-up yesterday, in which the commission will take on a new monitoring and research role.

About $4 million of the Families Commission's $32.5 million budget would be redirected into parenting programmes and relationship education in schools. Some of this would also go into Prime Minister John Key's social media-based mental health scheme for young people.

Of the remaining funding, $14.2 million would be invested in a new Social Policy Evaluation and Research Unit.


Ms Bennett said the new unit, recommended by chief science advisor Sir Peter Gluckman, would plug a gap in monitoring and evaluating the social sector.

The organisation would be pared down to a single commissioner accompanied by a board made up of academics, philanthropists and representatives from the public sector.

It would produce an annual Family Status Report on the health of the nation's families.

The changes were part of National's agreement with United Future.

United Future leader Peter Dunne said the commission had lost its way, and the restructure restored the commission's original purpose to produce "hard-nosed evidence".

"The model we always had in mind was a Families Commission that did for families what Treasury does for the economy - monitoring, evaluating and researching - and these moves bring it far closer to that."

The unit will take on the responsibility of the long-term Growing Up in New Zealand study, which received $1.8 million in 2012/13.

The changes were expected to be completed early next year.