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Social Investment

Page updated 12 Jul 2017

Social Investment is about improving the lives of New Zealanders by applying rigorous and evidence-based investment practices to social services.

It means using information and technology to better understand the people who need public services and what works, and then adjusting services accordingly.  What is learnt through this process informs the next set of investment decisions.

Much of the focus is on early investment to achieve better long-term results for people and helping them to become more independent.  This reduces the number of New Zealanders relying on social services and the overall costs for taxpayers.

Social Investment puts the needs of people who rely on public services at the centre of decisions on planning, programmes and resourcing, by:

  • Setting clear, measurable goals for helping those people;
  • Using information and technology to better understand the needs of people who rely on social services and what services they are currently receiving;
  • Systematically measuring the effectiveness of services, so we know what works well and what doesn’t;
  • Purchasing results rather than specific inputs, and moving funding to the most effective services irrespective of whether they are provided by government or non-government agencies.

The way in which these principles are implemented will vary, and may include:

  • a particular focus on vulnerable or high-risk groups;
  • investing up-front to support people most at risk of poor outcomes later on in life;
  • greater input from outside the public sector in analysis, innovation and service provision;
  • working with local organisations to commission services within communities;
  • new citizen-centred services that cut across existing departmental service channels; and
  • interacting with each household through a single trusted relationship.

Social Investment Theme to the Treasury Guest Lecture Series

As part of its Guest Lecture Series, the Treasury will be hosting a number of seminars in the coming months on social investment. The aim is to bring in different perspectives and stimulate innovation in developing social investment and making it real. Look out for a range of guest speakers talking about what social investment means to them, including social service providers and charities, local and central public servants, academics and business people.

More on Social Investment

Social Investment Request for Information

In 2014 the Treasury sought input from people working on the frontline on how to identify people most at risk of poor outcomes. Read more about the Social Investment Budget 2015 Request for Information.

Speeches by Ministers

Speeches on social investment-related topics by Ministers on the Beehive website:


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