Article: Making Social Services Work for Everyone

Dave Heatley

Social services are those dedicated to enhancing people’s economic and social well-being by helping them lead more stable, healthy, self-sufficient and fulfilling lives. New Zealand’s social services – specifically, those provided, funded or otherwise supported by government – were the subject of a recent Productivity Commission inquiry.

The commission’s final report is wide-ranging, covering subjects from service commissioning to purchasing and contracting, programme evaluation, institutional design and system stewardship. The report’s recommendations on many of these topics reflect standard social policy principles and may hold few surprises for readers of Policy Quarterly. The commission’s report breaks new ground in its analysis and in its proposals for institutional changes to address the needs of those New Zealanders least well served by the current system. This article summarises these aspects of the report. Readers seeking further information should consult the full report.