Working paper

More effective social services – draft report

28 Apr 2015

Key Points

  • Social services help New Zealanders to live healthy, safe and fulfilling lives. They provide access to health services and education opportunities, and protect and supp ort the most vulnerable. The quality of these services and access to them are crucial to the ongoing wellbeing of New Zealanders.
  • The government funds social services with the aim of improving outcomes that people value, such as better health, less crime, and more and better jobs.
  • Social services are only one influence among many that determine outcomes. Other important influences include family, friends and community, work and colleagues, early physical and social experiences, and economic deprivation.
  • This inquiry is about finding ways to improve individual and social wellbeing through more effective social services.

The inquiry has examined (among other things):

-the strengths and weaknesses of current approaches to commissioning and purchasing social services;

-the lessons learnt from recent initiatives and new approaches, in New Zealand and overseas;

-how social services can best target and help those with high needs and at high risk of poor outcomes;

-how to improve outcomes through better coordination of services, within and between government agencies and service providers;

- how to take advantage of emerging opportunities offered by existing and new datasets, new information technologies and data analytics to learn about the effectiveness of different ser vices for different groups, and to spread this learning; and

- the institutional arrangements that would support smarter commissioning, purchasing and contracting of social services.

  • The Commission has been impressed with the hard work, perceptive thinking a nd commitment of the many people and organisations, outside and within government, who help deliver social services to those in need.
  • The role of this inquiry is not to critique the performance of government agencies and service providers. Rather, its role is to make recommendations that will improve the system.
  •  In developing its draft findings and recommendations the Commission has drawn evidence from many sources, including research papers and extensive consultation. It received 134 submissions on its is sues paper and has held more than 100 face-to-face meetings.
  • The Commission has made 81 draft findings and 47 draft recommendations, and posed 8 questions. Recommendations range from modest ways to improve commissioning and contracting to bold suggestions for changes to roles and responsibilities. The Commission believes this draft report will generate plenty of interest and welcomes submissions.
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