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Taxpayers expect Government to manage the economy well through not spending for the sake of it but rather to get tangible outcomes for all New Zealanders from that investment.

Social investment provides an opportunity to deliver those tangible outcomes and drive change.

At its heart, it’s about developing an evidenced- based approach and an understanding of what works to make a difference in people’s lives. I know this first-hand through my background in working in health. Effective change empowers people – whether it’s around health, social housing, education, welfare or justice. Helping people to become empowered and independent is the best way to help them lead better lives.

It also saves taxpayer money in the long run. Latest figures show future welfare liability cost has reduced by $12 billion over the last four years as a result of the Government’s social investment approach.

Government data analysis shows four key indicators that are likely to lead to poor life outcomes, including a Child, Youth and Family finding of abuse or neglect, for children and which could result in them being four times more likely to leave school with no qualifications, nine times more likely to serve a prison term and six times more likely to receive benefits before they reach the age of 35.

We want our young people to succeed. And for the first time we can see the risk factors affecting young people within their various communities. In Waimakariri electorate we have 15 at-risk children between the ages of 0 and five against a national total of 3591; 27 at-risk children between the ages of six and 14 against a national total of 4252; and 48 at-risk 15 to 19 year olds against a national total of 5,772. This shows that while we may be better off than other places, there is room to do better.

Through better public services, both government agencies and community services, we can ensure that most of our young people in the Waimakariri don’t become statistics but go on to lead fulfilled and productive lives.

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