First social bond to focus on mental health

  • Amy Adams
  • Steven Joyce

New Zealand’s first social bond will help around 1,700 people with mental illness into work, Finance Minister Steven Joyce and Social Investment Minister Amy Adams say.

“The social bond approved by Cabinet in December 2016 has successfully raised the required finance so is now operational as New Zealand’s first social bond,” Mr Joyce says.

“Social Bonds are an innovative method of providing social services for people with complex needs – where a financial incentive is offered to a consortium of providers and investors if they can achieve a result with a service which is demonstrably better than what has been previously achieved with the old way of doing things.

Social Investment Minister Amy Adams says this social bond is another example of the social investment approach designed to get more effective delivery of services to those who most need them.

“One of the difficult challenges in getting people off benefits and back into work is how best to help people with mild to moderate mental health challenges and achieve sustainable long-term results. Government agencies have struggled with this issue for a long time,” Ms Adams says. 

“Through this social bond, we can utilise private sector skills and innovations to help participants into paid employment, so they get off welfare and improve their mental health. This leads to more independent lives, and a better outcome for them and the taxpayer.

“Job seekers with a qualifying benefit and a diagnosed mental health condition may be eligible to be referred for the services.”

“It is an innovative approach to a long-term problem”, Mr Joyce says.  “I look forward to seeing how this pilot performs. I’m sure we all stand together across the public service and across the parliament in seeking a better outcome for people challenged by mental health conditions.”

The bond will be delivered by APM Workcare. APM Workcare is an experienced and successful provider of vocational rehabilitation and disability services, with around 150 employees. They have assisted more than 24,000 people across the country to return to work after injury or unemployment, using a model of individualised support and wrap-around care.

The service will be voluntary, and will be available to those who are living in the Auckland suburbs of Manukau, Manuwera, Clendon, Papakura, Pukekohe and Waiuku. APM Workcare will deliver services to up-to 1700 people over the 60 month duration of the bond.

A second bond, aimed at reducing youth reoffending rates in South Auckland, is on track for final decisions later this year.

About social bonds

Social bonds allow Government to contract out services and funding to non-government or private organisations, with agreed targets and timeframes.

If the targets are met, Government pays back the investors, and also pays a return on their investment. The return depended on the level of results, up to an agreed maximum.

There are around 60 bonds operating around the world, including in Australia, USA, and Canada.

More information can be found at: