Analysis - Budget 2018: 1 NEWS' Jessica Mutch and Simon Dallow break it down - 'A little bit flat'

The Budget 2018 was announced today, as the government opened its books to the country. 

1 NEWS political editor Jessica Mutch and presenter Simon Dallow analysed the impact of the decisions. 

OVERVIEW

The Budget 2018 release was a prudent and cautious, and a "little bit flat", say 1 NEWS political editor Jessica Mutch and presenter Simon Dallow.

The sector will receive $4 billion in funding, allowing for cheaper doctors' visits for half a million Kiwis. Source: 1 NEWS

Mutch said what was revealed today was "almost half of the Budget", after Finance Minister Grant Robertson "played all of his big cards in the mini-Budget".

"It's prudent... it's cautious," Dallow said.

Mutch described it as the "nuts and bolts" Budget, being "a little bit flat", with "all the fun things" already announced.

Health

Health was "clearly the winner" in Budget 2018, said Mutch.

The sector will see a $3.2 billion boost over the next four years, with an extra $850 million in new capital.

It includes a $2.3b boost for District Health Boards, cheaper GP visits for 600,000 low income Kiwis and an extension of free doctor visits for children up to age 14, as well as a nod in the direction of community midwives.

Despite the boost, Mutch said it wasn't as much of a cash injection as what was expected. Dallow said the allocation to GP visits came after the criticism of Labour's election policy to implement cheaper GP visits for all New Zealanders on July 1, which is now being "phased".

Education

Early childhood took a "big chunk" of education funding, with $1.6 billion not seeming "like a lot", said Ms Mutch.

Housing

Dallow said the funding for housing was "quite disappointing", however, if the KiwiBuild is factored into this Budget it increases the allocation.

Budget 2018 did not give "as much as expected" to housing.

Pay Parity

There was no provision in the Budget for pay parity, Dallow said.

"That case [pay parity for rest home workers] opened up a whole new can of worms for the government, it's an interesting thing to leave out," Mutch said.
 

1 NEWS political editor Jessica Mutch says there was no lolly scramble in Wellington today. Source: 1 NEWS



Midwives, hospitals and GP visits - the cash injections of Budget 2018

Health was a major winner in what could be described as a careful Budget, with an injection of $4 billion over the next four years. 

$3.2 billion has been boosted into operating costs and $850 million has been allocated into capital. 

In that, $2.3b goes to DHBs, 600,000 low income New Zealanders will get cheaper GP visits, and free GP visits for children will now be eligible to 13 year olds, raising the previous cut-off date by a year. 

Fixing hospitals

Health Minister David Clark said $750m would go into fixing "the most urgent" building problems of hospitals, and $100m will be available if necessary in the 2018/19 year "to strengthen DHB balance sheets through deficit support". 

DHBs

$2.2b has been put to "lay the foundations for stronger, more sustainably funded DHBs", Dr Clark said. 

$126m has also been put into operational funding over the next four years "to keep up with demand for elective surgeries and other proceedures". 

GP visits

Free GP visits for children will now be eligible to 13 year olds and Budget 2018 also includes an extension of "very low" GP visits to Community Service card holders, and allocates the card to all Housing NZ tenants, Kiwis who receive an accommodation supplement or other rent subsidies based on income.

"This will make going to the GP cheaper by up to $30 for 540,000 people eligible for the Community Services Card."

Dr Clark said the two initiatives require $362.7m and "will have a major impact on people's health and wellbeing". 

Midwives

A new package has been created to help community-based midwives. 

$103.6m goes to operating funds over the next four years, and also $9m in the 2018/19 period. 

"About half of that funding will go towards an 8.9 per cent 'catch-up' increase in fees for over 1,400 lead maternity carers," Dr Clark said. 

Air Ambulance

Over $60m will go to strengthing the air ambulance service. 

The government hopes the fresh investment will raise the quality of New Zealand's health system. Source: 1 NEWS

TODAY'S
FEATURED STORIES

'A plan for transformation' - Grant Robertson says Budget lays foundations for New Zealanders to have better lives.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson says the Labour-led Government's first Budget sets out the first steps in a plan for transformation of our economy, public services and the way we work together to improve the lives of all New Zealanders.

"This is a Government that does things a little bit differently and you can expect our Budgets to look a little different also," Mr Robertson said, as he delivered his first Budget.

"We are committed to being responsible, not just fiscally but socially and environmentally," he said. 

"Budget 2018 lays the foundations for New Zealanders to have better lives in the future. 

"This starts with making sure that all New Zealanders have access to high quality public services that they need and deserve such as health, education and housing," the Finance Minister  told Parliament.

Health, education, housing and other critical public services receive overdue investments today he said in a release.

"Our public services have been underfunded for too long and there has been a failure to appropriately plan for the future. That changes today."

The coalition Government is rebuilding the critical services Kiwis expect their government to provide - modern hospitals, classrooms kids can learn in, public housing for those who need it, efficient transport systems and safe communities, he said.

The Budget makes responsible investments for the future, while delivering a surplus of more than $3 billion and taking a responsible approach to debt reduction, he said.

"We are committed to living within our means and having a buffer to deal with the risks and shocks that a small country like New Zealand inevitably faces," the Minister said.

This starts with making sure Kiwis have access to high quality public services, says the Finance Minister while delivering the Labour-led Government's first Budget. Source: 1 NEWS