annual report

Nature and scope of functions

We help New Zealanders to help themselves to be safe, strong and independent.

Ko ta mātou he whakamana tangata kia tū haumaru, kia tū kaha, kia tū motuhake.

Our purpose

The Ministry of Social Development helps New Zealanders to help themselves to be safe, strong and independent.

We have a presence in almost every region in New Zealand and our people have connections to every community. Our work touches the lives of nearly every New Zealander, across all stages of life.

Our role and functions

We achieve our purpose through providing:

  • statutory care and protection of children and young people, youth justice services and adoption services
  • funding for service providers in the community
  • campaigns that respond to concerns about the level of family violence in New Zealand
  • information, knowledge and support for families and communities
  • income support services, including assessments and payments of benefits, New Zealand Superannuation and other pensions and allowances
  • employment support services
  • student allowances and student loans
  • access to concessions and discounts for senior citizens, families and low-income New Zealanders
  • social housing assessments and services
  • services to uphold the integrity of the welfare system and minimise the debt levels of people we work with
  • leadership across the social sector.

Better Public Services

The Ministry is responsible for leading cross-agency effort to achieve the following Better Public Services (BPS) results:

  • Reduce the number of people who have been on a Jobseeker Support benefit for more than 12 months (Result 1)[1]
  • Reduce the number of assaults on children (Result 4).

In addition, our Chief Executive, as Chair of the Social Sector Board, has responsibility for leading cross-agency effort to achieve the following BPS results:

  • Increase participation in early childhood education (Result 2)
  • Increase infant immunisation rates and reduce the incidence of rheumatic fever (Result 3).

We also contribute to the following four BPS results:

  • Increase the proportion of 18-year-olds with NCEA Level 2 or an equivalent qualification (Result 5)
  • Reduce the rates of total crime, violent crime and youth crime (Result 7)
  • Reduce reoffending (Result 8)
  • New Zealanders can complete their transactions with the Government easily in a digital environment (Result 10).

Our scope

In 2014/2015 we administered over $23 billion in government expenditure and provided services and assistance to more than 1.1 million New Zealanders and 140,000 families.

The Ministry provides services to the:

  • Minister for Social Development
  • Associate Minister for Social Development
  • Minister for Disability Issues
  • Minister of Revenue
  • Minister for Senior Citizens
  • Minister for Social Housing
  • Minister of State Services
  • Minister of Veterans’ Affairs
  • Minister for Youth.

We administered two Votes in 2014/2015

  • Vote Social Development
  • Vote Senior Citizens [2].

We monitor four Crown entities

  • Children’s Commissioner
  • Superu (formerly the Families Commission)
  • New Zealand Artificial Limb Service
  • Social Workers Registration Board.

We support statutory tribunals and advisory committees

  • Expert Advisory Group on Information Security
  • Social Security Appeal Authority
  • Student Allowance Appeal Authority
  • Social Workers Complaints and Disciplinary Tribunal
  • Taskforce for Action on Violence within Families[3]
  • Work and Income Board
  • nine Child, Youth and Family Grievance Panels
  • Modernising Child, Youth and Family Expert Panel.

Our structure

Service Delivery

We provide services directly to the public through the following service lines: Work and Income (including social housing), StudyLink, Senior Services, Child, Youth and Family and Community Investment.


We provide social sector-wide policy advice on issues relating to children, families, youth, income support, employment, social housing, older people, disability and social sector strategy.

Policy advice is provided by the Office of the Chief Policy Advisor and the Social Policy business group, which includes the Ministry of Youth Development, the Office for Disability Issues and the Office for Senior Citizens.


We support the policy and service delivery lines through our Organisational Solutions, Organisational Integrity and Organisational Strategy business groups.

The Property Management Centre of Expertise, which is housed within the Ministry, provides all-of-government property management services.

Legislation we manage

We operate in a complex environment governed by many key pieces of legislation that provide the framework for the decisions we make and ensure a fair system for all who use it.

A full list of legislation administered by the Ministry can be found at

Linking it together

The framework below shows the link between the Ministry’s outcomes, four-year strategic priorities and Government priorities.

Links between outcomes and outputs are shown on page 44 of the 'Assessing our outcomes'.

Download the diagram in A4


[1] From 1 July 2015 the Government has revised the target for this Result to focus on total numbers on main benefits and the long-term liability of the benefit system.

[2] Vote Senior Citizens was disestablished from 1 July 2015.

[3] The Taskforce for Action on Violence within Families was active from June 2005 to July 2015. It led and co-ordinated interagency action to address family violence, including abuse and neglect of children and older persons.