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Leave social services to Wellington

Local government, both Thames Coromandel District Council – TCDC, should be focusing on essential services only and leave social services to Wellington (central government). To do this, TCDC must prioritise essential services only and leave the rest to central government.
 |  Flemming H Rasmussen  | 

By delineating these roles clearly, TCDC can enhance efficiency, improve service delivery (reduce cost), and ensure better outcomes for us, the local fee and ratepayers. That way, we all avoid paying more than is required for services we need, value and are prepared to pay for.

Local New Zealand government entities are pivotal in delivering essential services to communities. The extent of their responsibilities, particularly concerning social services, is debatable.

As ratepayers and fee payers, we fund local government. As taxpayers, we fund central government. I advocate a change in focus in a cost-of-living crisis and a high-inflation economy A get-back-to-basics culture.

1. Efficiency and Resource Allocation:

TCDC is a local government entity. It is tasked with managing limited resources efficiently. It can streamline its operations and allocate resources more effectively by focusing solely on essential services, e.g. infrastructure maintenance, waste management, and emergency services. Social services require specialised expertise and (often) significant funding.  By relinquishing responsibility for social services, TCDC can avoid overextension, concentrate its efforts on essential services, and do a better job.

2. Clarity of Responsibility:

Clarifying TCDC’s focus and role fosters accountability and transparency. When local governments are inundated with various social service obligations, it blurs the lines of responsibility, leading to confusion among residents, fee and ratepayers (about who is responsible for what).

By concentrating on essential services, TCDC can clearly define its mandate, allocate its resources and deliver services more effectively in areas where they can have the most significant impact. As fee and ratepayers, this clarity enables us to hold our representatives accountable for service delivery and ensures that TCDC remains focused on its core responsibilities.

3. Specialisation and Expertise:

We live in an ever-increasing complex world. Social services require specialised knowledge and expertise to address complex issues, e.g. mental and physical healthcare, education, and welfare. We pay tax, and central government agencies exist, for this very purpose. They are better equipped to provide these services efficiently as they can access the expertise and derive economies of scale (EoS).

Specialisation ensures that we receive high-quality services tailored to our needs, leading to better outcomes and improved social well-being.

4. Consistency and Equity:

Centralising social services promotes consistency and equity in service delivery across regions and districts.

In the Coromandel, we know all about the fact that disparities in resources and capacity among local and regional councils result in unequal access to social services for citizens. By centralising social services, the government can ensure uniform standards and equitable distribution of resources, regardless of geographical location. It requires central planning, with distributed resources and service delivery locally. This fosters social cohesion and reduces disparities, enhancing the well-being of all New Zealanders.

5. Flexibility and Adaptability:

Centralised provision of social services leads to greater flexibility and adaptability in responding to changing needs and circumstances. Central governments, can (quickly) reallocate resources and adjust policies to address emerging issues, such as public health crises or economic downturns. This facilitates that social services remain responsive and effective in meeting our population’s needs.

6. Fiscal Sustainability:

TCDC faces significant fiscal constraints that limit its capacity to fund social services adequately. There are simply too few ratepayers amongst us, and fees can only go so high to remain affordable and in demand. By focusing on essential services, TCDC avoids overstretching budgets and maintains fiscal sustainability without constantly asking us, the poor fee and ratepayers, for more money.

Most social services require substantial long-term investments, which strain TCDC’s financial resources. Our scarce resources should only focus on essential, core services and be allocated judiciously to meet these requirements.

7. Focus on Core Responsibilities:

By leaving social services to central governments, TCDC can focus on their core responsibilities, such as infrastructure, public safety, and economic development. With good leadership, this, in turn, leads to more effective governance and better outcomes for residents and fee and ratepayers.

Conclusion:

Common sense should prevail. This is what we pay our rates for. TCDC should focus and get back to basics. It should stick to its knittings and deliver essential core services only. Nothing more, nothing less. What do you think?