Business not totally left out of the Wellbeing Budget

Commentary, insights and analysis of the New Zealand Budget 2019.

In Brief

  • The Budget focus is on long-term challenges, including mental health and child poverty
  • $2.1 billion for rail network
  • $300 million for a new venture capital fund to invest in mid-sized start ups

Businesses will benefit from the Government's broader wellbeing initiatives directed at improving mental health outcomes and lifting people out of poverty.

"The Wellbeing Budget was never going to be primarily about business, but businesses were not totally left out," said Peter Vial FCA, New Zealand Country Head of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ).

"Those most in need are the big winners and nobody is quibbling about that. It is no surprise that this Budget is full of initiatives, policies and spending on mental health, child poverty reduction and lifting outcomes for Maori and Pasifika."

Vial said if all those initiatives and policies deliver on the promises, "the long-term benefits for the country and businesses will be significant, and so they should be given the size of the spending".

The Government cites mental illness as costing the economy $12 billion (5% of GDP) in 2014. "Currently employers bear much of the upfront and ongoing costs of supporting their staff through mental health, addiction, domestic violence and other societal problems often linked to poverty."

"Better resources, more investment and wrap around services will alleviate some but not all of the costs borne by employers," Vial says in his commentary.

2019 NZ Wellbeing budget

Transition to a low emissions economy

The Wellbeing Budget promised to focus on creating opportunities to transition to a sustainable and low-emissions economy.

Critical capital expenditure in the Rail network is included under this Budget priority with $2.1 billion capital spend.

Karen McWilliams CA, CA ANZ's Business Reform Leader, points to the Government's commitment of $229 million to sustainable land use as a transformational measure for this priority.

Productivity building blocks

The Budget contains a moderate win for mid-sized New Zealand start-ups, which will receive investment of $240 million diverted from the NZ Super Fund.

The Government subsidised apprenticeship programme Mana in Mahi will receive a $50 million funding boost to increase the number of places available from 150 to 2000, writes Charlotte Evett CA, New Zealand Government Relations Lead for CA ANZ.

The Government's five priorities for Budget 2019 are:

  • Supporting mental wellbeing for all New Zealanders, with a special focus on under 24-year-olds
  • Reducing child poverty and improving child wellbeing, including addressing family violence
  • Lifting Māori and Pacific incomes, skills and opportunities
  • Supporting a thriving nation in the digital age through innovation, social and economic opportunities
  • Creating opportunities for productive businesses, regions, iwi and others to transition to a sustainable and low-emissions economy.

Commentary and Opinion

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