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Social Spending


Labour has committed $4.9b to health-related policies. This includes $$3.9b to ‘Delivering a Modern Health System’ (yet to be more specifically outlined); $879m to reversing health underfunding; and $163m to mental health.

National is the only other party to announce new health spending (outside of Budget 2017) with $2.1m for ‘Raising Healthy Kids’.


New Zealand First policy to write-down student debt will cost taxpayers $13.9b over the next three years alone. Their total education spending will amount to $14.6b.

Labour’s policy to provide three years of free tertiary education has been estimated to cost $265m in the initial rollout period; to accompany a $193m increase in early childhood spending. The total of new education spending is approximately $2.5b.

United Future’s tertiary education policy will cost $1.9b over the next three years. The policy involves abolishing all tuition fees as well as student allowances. The Government currently subsidises approximately 73% of tuition fees. So increasing subsidisation to 100% will cost the Government an additional $2.8b over the next three years. On the other hand, removing the student allowance will save taxpayers’ over $1.5b over the same period. However, it must be expected that these students will now require living costs. The Government writes-down 44.3% of living costs as an expense (due to interest-free repayments and bad debts). Therefore the living cost uptake will cost approximately $683m over the next three years.

National has committed $52m to Education, including $40m to new Digital Technologies and other various school upgrades.


There have been large welfare spending commitments by most parties.

Labour’s total welfare spending policies, such as a boost to Working For Families, a Winter Energy Payment, contributions to the New Zealand Super Fund, and doubling the Refugee quota comes to $6.7b.

The Green Party has the second largest welfare package to date, with $6.1b in new spending. Their ‘Mending the Safety Net’ package includes a 20% increase in all benefits, changes to Working For Families entitlements, and the reinstitution of a training incentive allowance. The total cost of this package over the next parliamentary term is estimated at $4.3b. The ‘Budget For All Mothers’, which includes extending paid parental leave and subsidising after-school care, will cost a further $234m. Introducing a winter energy payment (similar to Labour) is estimated to cost $1.1b over three years.

ACT will reverse the welfare increases in Budget 2017 (Working For Families and Accommodation Supplement changes), which will save taxpayers $2.3b. The proposal to increase the superannuation age, which will come into effect in 2020, is estimated to save taxpayers $162m in its first year. ACT’s total welfare savings are $2.5b.

The Opportunites party will provide an unconditional basic income (UBI) to all people with children below the age of three, and all elders over 65. However, they will means-test Superannuation so these two policies are projected to be revenue neutral. This mean-test of Super is also projected to pay for the extension of the free early education for children aged 3-5, which on its own would cost about $990m per year.

TOP’s most expensive policy (which is not offset by a reduction in other spending areas) is the 18-23 year-old UBI. This will cost approximately $2.8b per year in new spending (note we do not count the increase in GST take as an offset as it is not a reduction in other spending). This policy makes up the bulk of TOP’s new spending, totalling $8.4b over the next parliamentary term.


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