Dr Girol Karacaoglu, then Chief Economist, New Zealand Treasury, discussed social investment and the Treasury’s shift in thinking towards intergenerational wellbeing at the one-day Kaikohe TacklingPovertyNZ workshop on 16 September 2016.

You can watch Dr Girol’s video on the McGuinness Institute YouTube channel or view it below.

Girol explained how the Treasury has expanded its role from financial redistribution (collecting taxes and spending to increase economic growth) to exploring integrated public policy around wellbeing, for a more holistic approach. He shared the Treasury’s public policy goals, which are about giving people the opportunities and capability to live the kinds of lives they have reason to value. With this purpose in mind, Girol then discussed the dimensions of wellbeing beyond material wellbeing, explaining that people also care about things like work-life balance and education. Girol said ‘If you’re going to frame policy, you need to make sure that you’re addressing these in an integrated way’. He then explained the Treasury’s living standards framework for intergenerational wellbeing, which focuses on resilience, social cohesion, sustainability, equity and potential economic growth, using the four capitals; natural, human, social and economic as measures.

Girol also shared some of the Treasury’s social investment insights, arguing that we need to invest in at-risk children now to prevent them from getting into trouble later. The Treasury can identify who are at-risk, but need community solutions for what to do about it. He acknowledged this by saying ‘communities can lead the solutions and the central government can support it’. Treasury is the analyst and can help scale up solutions that are working, but the solutions have to come from the communities. This model for government funding and policy is in its early stages but will continue to grow going forward.

About the TacklingPovertyNZ 2016 tour
In December 2015, the McGuinness Institute undertook a three-day workshop in collaboration with the New Zealand Treasury. Its purpose was to explore ways to reduce poverty in New Zealand. This workshop has led to a number of outputs, one of which was a tour of one-day workshops around New Zealand throughout 2016. The purpose of the tour was to build and share ideas on how to tackle poverty, come up with local solutions and connect like-minded people within communities.

The Kaikohe workshop was one of six, along with workshops in Queenstown, Manawatu, Rotorua, Gisborne and Kaitaia. A discussion paper for each area visited has been published on our website. These papers are specific to each community and together form a series showcasing insights from individuals who attended a one-day workshop in their local community.

In addition, the mayors from each council met with the then Minister of Finance, Hon Bill English to discuss the outputs of the workshops, which led to the Demarcation zones for public policy innovation proposal sent to the Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Bill English, on 21 December 2016. The proposal calls for the establishment of demarcation zones, which will isolate and separate an area from existing rules to make space for new rules to be implemented that are fit for the specific community they serve – decentralising economic and social governance. This instrument of public policy reform aims to tackle poverty and build economic wealth in the community.

Working Paper 2017/01 – TacklingPovertyNZ 2016 Tour: Methodology, results and observations has been released for comment and can be found on our website. This paper brings all the outputs together from the six workshops and aims to illustrate the differences between communities. In 2017 we would like to build on these findings. There was a lot to learn and digest, and we are still working through what this means in terms of public policy. Any feedback on this paper is most welcome. This year we will send an invitation to all MPs to meet to discuss the working paper.