Strategy to improve results in social services

  • Anne Tolley
Social Development

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley says a new long-term strategy for social service investment will deliver better results for at-risk children, young people and adults, along with more effective use of taxpayer money.

The Community Investment Strategy will create a more results-focused and evidence-based approach for MSD’s purchasing of social services for vulnerable people and communities, and will also be more transparent, targeted, flexible and efficient.

“The government currently invests $331 million each year in this sector, and we need a structured plan to ensure this funding is making a difference for our most vulnerable Kiwis, and that it is being invested in the right places,” says Mrs Tolley.

“At the moment there is little evidence of the effectiveness, or not, of funding in this sector, because up until now most contracts have focused on the numbers of clients receiving services, rather than the effect that the service has on improving the lives of vulnerable people.

“We need to address this so that future contracts are built around positive results and evidence of what is working.”

The key elements of the strategy include:

  • Focusing more clearly on priority results
  • Building the evidence base
  • Improving the quality of data collection
  • Setting a clear direction for funding
  • Simplifying compliance requirements, and
  • Building provider capability

“This represents a culture change for MSD and for providers, and it is important that providers are supported through this process by the Ministry,” says Mrs Tolley.

“Over the next three years MSD will work with providers to help them transition to contracts that include results measures. This will be fully rolled-out by June 2018, and the gradual introduction is in line with advice received from PWC in an independent analysis of the strategy.”

MSD’s purchasing of services for vulnerable people will focus on three priority areas based on the government’s Better Public Service targets:

  • Supporting vulnerable children, children in hardship and reducing child maltreatment
  • Supporting vulnerable youth, including young offenders and reducing youth crime
  • Supporting vulnerable adult victims/survivors, addressing perpetrators’ behaviour and reducing violent crime

A small number of other MSD-funded services which address other priorities, such as supporting disabled people and the Canterbury recovery, will also continue.

“Current funding levels in this important sector will remain, but we must ensure that taxpayer dollars are being invested in services that reach the at-risk people who need and deserve support, and that this is having a positive impact on their lives,” says Mrs Tolley.

“Simplified contracts with clear expectations and regular monitoring will enable us to do this, while MSD will also be able to identify possible duplication or gaps in services.”


The strategy, the Cabinet paper supporting it and the PWC report can be found at