Govt announcements on social sector commissioning and pay equity

Thu 03 Nov 2022

The government has made important announcements about social sector commissioning and pay equity for community social workers. Also see the related announcement about the social cohesion strategic framework and community fund.

people pointing at paperwork on a table

Govt announcements

Social Sector Commissioning Action Plan launched

Minister for Social Development and Employment Carmel Sepuloni announced the launch of the Social Sector Commissioning Action Plan 2022-2028. A brief, executive summary for the action plan is also available.

The purpose of the Action Plan is "Transforming the way social supports and services are commissioned so that they best support people, families and whānau to live the lives they value." This change involves giving practical effect to Te Tiriti o Waitangi and moving towards a relational approach.

The plan outlines 9 main actions that will be implemented over 3 different phases from 2022-2028:

  1. Learn how a relational approach can be applied to commissioning
  2. Provide the social sector with guidance on how to work in a relational way
  3. Change the commissioning system’s rules and processes to enable the sector to work together to provide social services
  4. Support reform programmes to work smarter and in a joined-up way to implement relational approaches to commissioning
  5. Government agencies and Crown entities make operational changes to deliver the government-endorsed ‘commitments’ to commissioning practice (there are 15 commitments listed in the plan)
  6. Government agencies and Crown entities outline the actions and approach they will take to implement a relational approach to commissioning
  7. Create a stewardship group that represents people who are involved in or impacted by the social sector, so they guide, promote, and protect the transformation of the system
  8. Build a team that is responsible for implementing the 2022–2028 Social Sector Commissioning Action Plan
  9. Monitor and learn how social sector commissioning is impacting individuals, families and whānau

The plan also identifies that a Commissioning Hub will be set up, noting "The Social Sector Commissioning work programme will have a team, known as the Commissioning Hub, that will provide support and guidance, and will facilitate change to a relational approach to commissioning." In addition, the plan identifies that working groups and a stewardship group will be set up.

In announcing the plan, Minister Sepuloni said:

“For our social services, these changes mean they can be sustainable, less focused on paper work and competition for funding, and more focused on supporting their communities with more flexibility in responding to the unique and diverse needs of those accessing their services.

“And for government, it means we need to be transparent in how we commission and support social services, and work collaboratively to learn and grow in order to meet the needs of New Zealanders. It’s also about making sure our investment in the sector is going to the right people and places, as opposed to being tied up in administrative processes."

For more information see the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) information on Social Sector Commissioning Action Plan and reform and the related Social Sector Commissioning: Direction for Change cabinet papers. The Commissioning Hub was included in Budget 2022. Also see the related MSD Budget 2022 fact sheet on Social Sector Commissioning: Growing the Capability of the Social Sector.

Related news

The Auckland Co-design Lab and The Southern Initiative in collaboration with Te Puna Aonui (formerly the Joint Venture on Family Violence and Sexual Violence) published the report Activating an Ecology of Support: a Futures Visualisation Project to inform integrated community-led responses to family violence and sexual violence (2022). The report was "...developed to inform thinking and ongoing discussion about what integrated community-led responses, as a 'new approach to investment' in family violence and sexual violence, could look like."

Community Networks Aotearoa |Te Hapori Tuhononga o Aotearoa has started an initiative to improve experiences with banks for community organisations. The project is looking at how banks and changes to banking systems are affecting the work of community organisations. They have formed a collaborative working group with four of their member organisations and they are working with the Citizens Advice Bureau and FINZ (the Fundraising Institute of New Zealand). Currently they are seeking feedback on whether organisations or community members have experienced banking difficulties.

Update: Community Networks Aotearoa published the final report from this research in June 2023: Better Banking for All -Creating Ease of Banking for the Not-For-Profit Sector (2023).

Hui E! Community Aotearoa published a Community Funding White Paper | Pepa Mā mō te Whai Pūtea ā-Hapori (2022). The white paper sets out 6 recommendations for government and other funders. The paper reflects on the strengths of the community sector in response to long term funding challenges as well as challenges and impacts from COVID-19.

SociaLink published a brief on the Impact of inflation on community organisations and communities (2022). The brief includes findings from a survey of community organisations and a review of recent literature on inflation. SociaLink is the umbrella organisation for the Western Bay of Plenty social agencies. The report includes suggestions for government and other funders, as well as community organisations.

Pay equity settlement for community social workers

Update: On 24 November 2022, Minister for Women Jan Tinetti announced that the Government will extend pay equity to all community and iwi organisations who employ social workers and receive funding from the Crown. This is expected to benefit 4,600 social workers. Minister Tinetti said:

“It will also streamline the process by removing the requirement for providers to work through their own separate pay equity claim. 

“This agreement from Government means that officials from the pay equity taskforce at Te Kawa Mataaho will immediately begin a significant piece of work to identify all the relevant providers in the sector and identify how many social workers they have that are covered by this extension.

“It follows work in October, when we announced a pay equity settlement for almost 500 social workers employed in five community and iwi organisations. They join the over 105,000 other working people who, since 2017, have now received a pay correction as a result of a pay equity claim.

“The extension is the first under the Framework for Oversight and Support of pay equity claims in the funded sector and will represent real and significant change for our valuable and hardworking community social workers.

“I encourage the community sector to engage with this upcoming piece of work as your voices will be critical in ensuring all providers and working people are captured to deliver pay equity for all."

For more information about next steps see the update from Te Kawa Mataaho | Public Service Commission. Also see the joint media release from PSA and SSPA.

Cabinet has agreed to a settlement for a pay equity claim related to 5 representative iwi and community social service organisations. The pay equity settlement and funding addresses pay undervaluation for community 'workers performing social work' at Barnardos, Christchurch Methodist Mission, Ngāpuhi Iwi Social Services, Stand Tū Māia and Wellington Sexual Abuse Help.

The claim was lodged in August 2019 by the Public Service Association Te Pūkenga Here Tikanga Mahi (PSA) following the 2018 settlement of the Oranga Tamariki pay equity claim. PSA said the settlement would mean that almost 500 social workers across the 5 organisations would receive an average pay rise of 36%. PSA also said "It will go a long way to retaining social workers in this critical sector. We now call on the Government to extend this settlement to the rest of the NGO sector so more workers can be paid fairly."

Minister for Children Kelvin Davis said “This social work pay equity claim is an important first step towards addressing the significant gender pay gap for social workers and others who carry out substantially similar work.”

Social Service Providers Aotearoa (SSPA) has coordinated and represented the organisations since the claim was lodged. Brenda Pilott ONZM, SSPA’s Pay Equity Co-Ordinator, said:

"The PSA lodged this pay equity claim against the five employers over three years ago – so we are tremendously pleased that a settlement has finally been reached. We acknowledge the immense commitment, and the workload carried by the five representative employers, in particular their CEOs, and members of their teams who have contributed significant time and effort to work assessments and data/information gathering that have informed the claim. We also acknowledge the ongoing support of the wider SSPA membership, the open and cooperative process with the PSA, and with Oranga Tamariki as the lead funding agency."

The SSPA media release noted that a plan and process are underway to extend the benefits of the settlement to the wider sector and that Te Kawa Mataaho | the Public Service Commission is leading the work. The SSPA media release also noted that PSA has filed a separate claim covering other workers at social service agencies who are not covered under the current settlement which is specific to 'workers performing social work.'

SSPA Chief Executive Dr Claire Achmad said:

"...the ball can start rolling on that second claim now, with this first claim having reached settlement. We expect this to be another complex and time-consuming claim due to the wide range of social services roles potentially covered, and we will be working hard to achieve a good outcome. As with the social work claim, we would expect to see the representative claim extended to others in the social services sector. It is only right that those kaimahi walking alongside families and whānau are appropriately valued and paid for the hard and tireless work that they do every day, too.”

For more background information about the settled claim as well as future work in this area see the SSPA updates on pay equity including a summary of the settlement. You can also sign-up for the SSPA pay equity mailing list

Related news

Kāhui Whakamana Tauwhiro | the Social Workers Registration Board published the report Demand for Social Workers: An insight into the number of vacant social work positions across Aotearoa (2022).

The Fair Pay Agreements Bill has passed Parliament and received Royal Assent. The legislation will provide a framework for collective bargaining for fair pay agreements across entire industries or occupations, rather than just between unions and particular employers. Media outlet The Spinoff provides an overview Fair Pay Agreements herald a new dawn for workers – but what exactly are they? article. The Beehive media release notes that more guidance for employees and employers will be available after 1 December when the Fair Pay Agreements system comes into effect. For more information see the Fair Pay Agreements information from the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment.

Update: Legislation to repeal the Fair Pay Agreements Act passed its third reading in December 2023. See the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment website for more information.

Between August 2021 and July 2022, the Human Rights Commission led a national inquiry into the Pacific Pay Gap to better understand why the pay gap exists and how it can be closed. The report, Voices of Pacific peoples: Eliminating pay gaps (2022), shares the findings and recommendations from the inquiry.

Related news

The Government has launched Te Korowai Whetū Social Cohesion strategic framework and community fund. The strategic framework outlines actions and outcomes to achieve a central vision of social cohesion in Aotearoa New Zealand. Resources are also available including information sheets, a summary of feedback, a baseline report and a measurement framework. Advocate Anjum Rahman has written article calling for the social cohesion framework to be applied to government first.

Minister for Diversity, Inclusion and Ethnic Communities, Priyanca Radhakrishnan said “It is important that we have a shared understanding of what social cohesion is and take actions we know can strengthen it." Minister Radhakrishnan also announced a $2 million community fund to support local and community-based social cohesion initiatives. Te Korowai Whetū Social Cohesion community fund is being administered by the Ministry of Social Development.

For more information see the cabinet papers related to strengthening social cohesion in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Related media

Care Workers Call For Fairness On Pay Equity Anniversary, Press Release: E Tū, Scoop, 18.04.2024

Government moves to support social workers workforce, Beehive media release, 10.05.2023

4600 community social workers to get pay equity with Oranga Tamariki counterparts , Stuff, 24.11.2022

Pay equity deal to extend to community and iwi social workers - Minister, RNZ, 24.11.2022

Pay equity deal extended to all community social workers, One News, 24.11.2022

Recapturing a national sense of belonging, Newsroom, 10.11.2022

Negotiations start for public service pay increase, five agencies pause industrial action, Stuff, 26.10.2022

A step forward for social work pay equity, Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers (ANZASW) media release, 25.10.2022

The 50th birthday of the Equal Pay Act is no cause for celebration, Newsroom, 19.10.2022

New Zealanders deserve equal pay, it’s only fair, Manatū Wāhine | Ministry for Women media release, 19.10.2022

‘My dad went on strike 20 years ago – but we’re still protesting pay gaps’, Newsroom, 18.10.2022

Economic abuse, systemic discrimination, lived experiences of Pasifika in workplaces, RNZ, 15.10.2022

Striking Oranga Tamariki staff say soaring vacancies an 'elephant in the room', Stuff, 05.10.2022

MindTheGap Calls For Government To Make A Public Commitment To Address Pay Gaps Before Equal Pay Act Anniversary, Press Release: MindTheGap NZ, Scoop, 27.09.2022

Inflation is killing nonprofits. Funders, you need to supplement your grants immediately, Nonprofit AF blog [US-based], 24.04.2022

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