Better Public Services For New Zealanders

Prime Minister Weekly Column
A public service that improves peoples’ lives and well-being is the backbone of a functioning society. That’s why in 2012 we set the public service a series of challenging targets to help improve how government agencies can make a difference to New Zealanders. As I have said before, there is no point pouring money into a public service that doesn’t deliver real results for the people that need them.
Last week, we released the Better Public Service (BPS) results. These showed that our ambitious targets are working. While not every result has been achieved, there has been progress made for each target we set over the last five years. More young people are getting an education and qualifications to improve their employment prospects for the rest of their lives. Education is starting earlier, and lasting longer – we now have nearly 97 percent of children participating in early childhood education, and more than 85 percent of 18-year-olds are attaining NCEA Level 2, up from 74 percent in 2011.
Fewer children are getting rheumatic fever or being physically abused, and more 8 month old babies are fully immunised. There is less crime in our communities, with total crime down 14 percent and youth crime down 32 percent since June 2011.
More people are getting into work and off benefits. The results show a little over 10 percent of the working age population now receive a main benefit. This is the lowest proportion since 2007, before the Global Financial Crisis hit. There were 8,000 fewer people on sole parent support in 2016 compared to 2014. There are 57,000 fewer people on job seeker benefits in September 2016 than there were in September 2010.
Our public service is becoming easier to interact with too. The results show that New Zealanders and businesses are spending less time engaging with government and are accessing high quality services online at a time that suits them. This progress is not just about numbers – it is about actual results. Each statistical gain represents a real and positive change for New Zealanders. And that is exactly why we set these targets.
One of the keys to meeting our BPS targets has been to require agencies to work together. None of the targets can be achieved by one agency working alone. It’s when agencies combine their efforts and their knowledge that they make the most significant gains.
We are not stopping here. While we have made tangible improvements, we know the job is not yet done. We will continue to drive positive change, and will announce a refreshed set of targets later this year. This new set of priorities will see us continue to demand the very best from our public service, and ultimately make a real difference to New Zealanders.