Will the Wellbeing Budget deliver?

By Wright Communications

A budget is imminent, but we seem to have lost sight of the importance of its content in the smoke of political fires.

Yet if the Wellbeing Budget delivers on its promises of long-term, intergenerational planning and a joined-up approach to funding allocation, this could signal a massive change in the economic focus of our country. For some time, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has been questioned as the sole means of measuring the success of a nation. Over many years, we have seen and heard discussions around other ways to analyse progress, including through Gross National Happiness, a trend running through the 70s to the mid ‘oughts, through to the sustainability-minded economic models of Kate Raworth and her 21st century “doughnut" economics being discussed today.

In New Zealand, the Government has settled on the Living Standards Framework (LSF), a set of indicators Treasury will use to “advise successive governments on how their policy choices affect New Zealanders over time.”

At Wright Communications, we welcome the new Wellbeing Budget as it aligns with our triple or quadruple bottom-line approach to business. This is how we routinely report annual results for our progressive clients, and we applaud the Government for focusing on social, environmental and cultural outcomes. 

We also work with those in the sector who are on the front-lines of mental health, domestic violence, gender equity, sustainability, green investment and poverty reduction. For us and our clients, the Government’s focus on these areas is a positive move that signals a greater understanding that success as a nation is measured by more than financial growth.

To highlight one area in particular, investment in mental health cannot come quickly enough. From our young people who struggle with feelings of anxiety and depression to those on the brink of suicide, and including those adults who have fallen on hard times and who now struggle to survive mentally and physically, New Zealanders need support. The Government’s response today to the He Ara Oranga report into mental health and wellbeing, including its bold move to expand services to 20 percent of the population rather than the 3.7 percent that are catered to now, is admirable.

We work in Auckland’s CBD and we see daily the struggle of so many Kiwis who are often forced to live and beg on the streets in Auckland. Thirty years ago, this was not the reality in Auckland, and so much has changed. But with change the only constant, we believe New Zealand, and the outcomes for people facing tough times, can change, too.

There are many impactful programmes run by agencies and non-profits that are making a difference for Kiwis every day. But they need more funding and long-term investment to change our culture, expectations and outcomes. We look forward to the budget announcement (in full) and hope it can begin to deliver on its potential.


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