$192 million to boost regional business support
While the Government may point to higher-than-expected economic performance as we recover from COVID-19, in many cases the benefits of Aotearoa’s economic success have not been distributed evenly.
Māori continue to face inequitable health outcomes (both physical and mental), while the high proportion of Māori businesses focused on agriculture means they are more likely to suffer from the negative consequences of climate change.
It is in recognition of this that the Government has incorporated a te ao Māori perspective into its new wellbeing framework. And while there seem to be indicators that the Government has considered the effects of new policy on Māori business, for example through targeted work to incorporate Māori kaupapa into its climate change response, has the Government included enough for the regions to ensure Māori businesses do not get left behind?
Budget overview – policy highlights
Many of the packages announced today to support Māori health and wellbeing will have a direct impact for Māori businesses, who should end up picking up a lot of this work. The significant expenditure focused on the regions should help Māori business, with the majority based in the regions. The main barrier to economic growth here has been digital infrastructure, and it’s encouraging to see some of the $192 million regional support fund going towards digital investments, particularly broadband.
Confirmed new policy areas
Regional support and infrastructure:
$116 million operating and $76 million capital to invest in regional business support and tourism Boosting the Regional Strategic Partnership Fund to invest in local projects tailored to particular regions, increasing broadband infrastructure in the worst-served regions for greater productivity, and working with the tourism industry to innovate and grow their sector in a changing world
$100 million to establish a business growth fund. This will enable SME owners to retain majority control of their businesses, while allowing them to grow, create new jobs and increase their contributions to wider economic and regional development.
Supporting healthy whānau and whenua
$580 million across the Health, Social and Justice sectors which contribute to Māori health and wellbeing. This includes $299 million to support Māori health services, including:
a range of investments aimed at enhancing rangatiratanga for Māori in the health system, Iwi-Māori partnership boards, and Māori providers of primary and community care
$168 million for Hauora Māori Commissioning of health services, to ensure that primary and community care is responsive to the needs of Māori communities, and support a Māori-led approach to population health and prevention
$167 million to support Māori adaptation to climate change by investing in Māori climate action, an equitable transitions programme and the Takutai Moana Financial Assistance Scheme, including $35 million to support farmers, growers and whenua Māori in the transition to the low carbon economy
Training and support
$316 million to extend the Apprenticeship Boost initiative, Mana in Mahi and the Māori Trades and Training Fund to lift economic inclusion and support employment opportunities for Kiwis by helping businesses take on apprentices
$155 million to continue the Cadetships Programme
$10 million to support Māori economic development with the Te Ringa Hāpai Whenua Infrastructure Fund, which will enable owners to undertake economic, cultural, social and environmental projects on their whenua
$26 million continued support for the Progressive Procurement project to help build capability for Māori businesses to effectively participate in public sector procurement processes and increase supplier diversity.
$249 million operating and $105 million capital to protect language, culture and identity Supporting the teaching and learning of te reo in schools through Māori language education funding, along with investing to develop a thriving Māori media sector
$2 billion operating and $855 million capital expenditure to invest in education from childhood through tertiary Investing in improved education for our children by supporting the education workforce, including strengthening Māori and Pacific language teaching, support for the tertiary education sector to meet demand, and implementing the Equity Index
$40 million of total operating funding to support the growth and development of the Māori media sector, and $28 million towards work to protect and enable the appropriate use of mātauranga Māori and other taonga
Business impacts and considerations
Angela Edwards, BDO Māori Business Sector Lead says:
“The regional investment expenditure announced today will have a significant impact for the Māori business sector. Digital inequality is still a significant issue – many areas with high numbers of Māori have poor or non-existent broadband and mobile coverage, which proves a significant barrier to working from home, e-commerce and new ways of reaching customers.
I see $20 million has been committed to the Digital Technologies Industry Transformation Plan, but if we are to transition to a high-wage, low-emissions economy we have to make sure we are not leaving rural areas behind.
The same goes for training – BDO is strong in the regions and so we see first-hand the lack of educational training and support for anything outside of the trades and primary industries. And yet these areas also need accountants, doctors, lawyers and other professionals. The regions have the talent, now we just need the right opportunities to unlock people’s potential and see the associated economic benefits to both small businesses and the country as a whole that this will bring. There appears to be more training focus on the trades but I do not see support for other professions in this year’s Budget.
One area that has seen regional investment is housing and I hope Kāinga Ora steps up its work with Iwi, who are doing a great job at creating social and emergency housing, as well as affordable builds for the working poor. Iwi organisations often experience barriers to funding these projects, and I would like to see Kāinga Ora work more closely to ensure these projects continue to get the funding they deserve.”
Have you reviewed available apprenticeships to give your employees the best chance of success?
Has your business assessed and reviewed the range of funding options available?
In line with Government procurement policy to award 5% of procurement contracts to Māori businesses, is your business pitching for all available opportunities where appropriate?
Read more about priority business issues facing the Māori business sector in our latest Pūrongo Pakihi Māori (Māori Business Sector Report).
More information & help available
You can read more detail on the expenditure announced today at the Government Budget website here.
At BDO, we understand that people, planet and profit drive Māori business above all else. Our Māori business advisers have strong relationships with the sector, and are there on the ground and in the regions working with you every day to help you achieve your dreams for your people, the planet and your profits. For advice on how to make the most of the opportunities presented in today’s Budget, or if you have ESG considerations you would like to discuss, or any other business support, reach out to our BDO Māori Business team today.