Proposal for State to sell off 10,000 needy New Zealanders

A newly released report proposes handing control of services for the 10,000 “highest-cost clients of the social services system” a new national “Better Lives” agency or to expanded “district health and social boards” (DHSBs), which would buy services from mostly non-government “navigators” to coordinate help for needy clients in their regions.

The report says each high cost client costs at least $500,000 in lifetime services, costing taxpayers $6.5 billion in total.

Council of Christian Social Services director Trevor McGlinchey says he supports the principle of handing control of budgets for needy clients to local communities, but he warns that focusing purely on the 10,000 needy individuals or nuclear families misses the need to build the strength of the wider whanau and community around them.

Auckland City Missioner Dame Diane Robertson says the report proposes new layers of bureaucracy and “navigators” to coordinate different services, when the best answer would be to provide a single integrated service for each client in need.

She says mission research with 100 needy families last year found that families did actually understand the system and did not need “navigators“. They simply needed help with the basics of adequate food, housing and income so that they had time and energy to tackle other issues such as mental health or addictions.

“We need to rethink,” she says.

The new report is part of a package of Government initiatives aimed at encouraging schools, doctors and other social services to work together to help families with complex issues such as family violence and addictions.

Other initiatives include children’s teams, which already allocate a “lead professional” to coordinate services for families with children, and Whanau Ora, which appoints “navigators” to help families develop whanau plans and bring in services to help them achieve those plans.


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