What is social investment?

Social investment is about improving the lives of New Zealanders by applying rigorous and evidence-based investment practices to social services.

Social investment answers questions such as ‘what works, for whom, where and at what costs’.

It’s called social investment, not spending, because it’s about investing resources upfront to enable people in need to thrive over the longer-term.

Four elements of social investment

  • Use data smarter to better understand people's current and future needs
  • Systematically measure the effectiveness of services in meeting people's needs
  • Measure long-term outcomes for people over their lifetime and feeding back into decision-making
  • Understand the fiscal implications of better outcomes and help to manage the long-term costs to government.

No data without stories, no stories without data

While the numbers are critical, the insight gained from doing the analysis is just as important. This ensures there’s a complete view of why different individuals may experience different outcomes from the social services being delivered. These insights add crucial context to investment advice to support decisions around where to best target investments.

Cabinet's definition of social investment

Putting the needs of people who rely on public services at the centre of decisions on planning, programmes and resourcing by:

  • Setting clear, measurable goals for helping those people
  • Using information and technology to better understand the needs of people who rely on social services and what services they are currently receiving
  • Systematically measuring the effectiveness of services, so we know what works well and for whom, and then feeding these learnings back into the decision-making process
  • Purchasing outcomes rather than specific inputs, and moving funding to the most effective services irrespective of whether they are provided by government or non-government organisations (NGOs).

More information

Find out more about the background of social investment is available on The Treasury website (external link) , and on our fact sheets page.

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