Budget 2016: Public servants do the hard yards but still miss out

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Public servants are the ones who deserve a standing ovation in this year’s Budget, the PSA says - not finance minister Bill English, who’s outlined a lacklustre and unimaginative set of figures today aimed at further reducing the size of government.

PSA National Secretary Glenn Barclay says members have worked magic, forgoing holidays and doing unpaid overtime to deliver the savings that allow National to hint at election year tax cuts.

"This is an uninspired Budget which promises little comfort for our members - who are straining to delivery good quality services while funding and staffing levels lag behind," Mr Barclay says.

"New Zealanders needed a firm commitment to public services in this government, and they did not receive it.

"There are isolated pockets of extra funding for staffing costs in Child Youth and Family, Customs and the Police.

"But overall, funding does not keep pace with rising demand and the growth in our population - which means our members will have to work magic to maintain good quality services.

"Mr English confirmed government expenditure on public services is now under 30 per cent of GDP and likely to remain so - below the OECD average, and well below wealthy countries like Denmark."

PSA National Secretary Erin Polaczuk says the health sector particularly will struggle - because the promised $568 million in extra money will not reach the CTU’s estimate of what’s needed to stand still.

"Mr English trumpeted a $2.2 billion health funding boost over four years - but by 2020, real health spending will be about $300 lower for every New Zealander," Ms Polaczuk says.

"And at a time when the mental health system is in crisis, the extra $3 million a year would pay for just 30 mental health nurses across the whole country."

Ms Polaczuk says there is good news in the Budget for home support workers and other low paid groups - with contingency made in the Fiscal Update for the outcome of equal pay negotiations.

"We are concerned though that no specific funding amount has been attached to this potential liability.

"We urge the government to make a firm commitment to funding all additional requirements of these talks - which will see New Zealand women finally recognised as being Worth 100%."