Housing Policy

We provide advice to Ministers and other decision-makers about how to support people to access the housing and services they need. We help to shape the social housing system in New Zealand, while our colleagues in MSD Service Delivery develop policy advice and support implementation.

The Social Housing Reform Programme is a cross-agency work programme aimed at building a fair, efficient and effective Social Housing system that helps the right people get into the right house, for the right duration and cost.

We work closely with Treasury, MBIE and HNZC to achieve this. We also work with a range of stakeholders including community housing providers, emergency housing providers, territorial local authorities and NGOs.

Who we are

The Housing Policy team provides advice to the government on supporting more people to access the housing services they need, supporting them transition to independence when they are ready, and increasing the supply of social and emergency housing.

What we do

Housing Policy provides advice on affordable housing and how to apply Social Investment approaches to housing. The last few years have seen significant changes with the implementation of some of the biggest reforms to the Social Housing sector in decades.

Now that the key planks of reform are in place there are opportunities to tackle some key strategic issues about the future state of the Social Housing system in New Zealand including:

  • Using information from the social housing valuation to develop our understanding of who needs and benefits most from Social Housing.
  • Developing a view on what kind of provider market we want to support better outcomes for tenants.

Seniors, International and Disability

The group has two teams and two Offices. The two teams have responsibility for providing advice to Ministers on issues relating to New Zealand’s ageing population, retirement income policy including Superannuation, International Social Security Agreements and MSD’s international obligations related to those from the United Nations and the OECD.

The two Offices are the Office for Seniors and the Office for Disability Issues. Both of the Offices are stand-alone Offices which are administered by MSD and support the relevant Ministers in their advocacy role providing independent advice to government agencies, act as a focal point within government for information and advice on issues affecting their relevant population group and facilitating effective engagement in the sector.

Who we are and what we do:

Older People’s Policy

Older People’s Policy helps to secure and increase the wellbeing of older New Zealanders, present and future. It is responsible for policy development and advice on a range of income support and social policy issues relevant to seniors.


The International Team is responsible for negotiating new and on-going maintenance of New Zealand’s social security agreements, providing advice on the treatment of overseas pensions paid to New Zealand residents and payment of New Zealand benefits to residents overseas.

The International team also provides support and advice for Ministers and senior MSD staff who attend meetings overseas, manages the programmes for overseas delegations who wish to meet with MSD officials, and coordinates MSD’s engagement with the OECD and the United Nations.

The Office for Seniors

The Office for Seniors works with the Minister for Seniors to improve outcomes for older people and to advocate for their issues. Our work includes providing information and advice on the wellbeing of older people and issues that affect them.

We work across central government agencies and local government to ensure that the work that they have responsibility for takes account of the needs of older people. We support our seniors with information and resources via our SuperSeniors website, newsletter and Facebook page and provide advice to them on their issues.

Office for Disability Issues

The Office for Disability Issues focuses on the rights of disabled people. We do this by providing advice to the Minister for Disability Issues to ensure they can advocate effectively with other Ministers. We also work right across government, helping different agencies make sure the work they do impacts on disabled people in a positive way.

Our role is a facilitator, helping to connect the disability sector and government agencies so they can work in collaboration.

Social Sector Strategy

Social Sector Strategy (SSS) provides advice and support to enable Policy, MSD and the wider social sector to make the best possible decisions on cross-agency issues. We support the Minister Responsible for Social Investment in collaboration with the Social Investment Unit.

We are focused on supporting the needs of chief executives across the Social Sector, and working on issues that cut across traditional agency boundaries. We are group of three teams;

Place-Based Initiatives National Support Team provides support for Place-Based Initiatives in Northland, South Auckland and Tairāwhiti. This includes providing tools, guidance, and facilitating lessons learnt and building social investment knowledge. The National Support Team is also responsible for evaluating the place-based approach.

Planning and Governance provides Social Policy with planning, performance measurement and reporting, and management support, and supports the Senior Management Group in making strategic decisions.

Social System Policy develops, facilitates and coordinates policy advice and good governance across the social system. With our social system partners, we are focussed on common populations where collective action is needed to improve their outcomes.

What we do

Place-Based Initiatives:

  • Establishing an evaluation framework for the Place-Based approach.
  • Providing the Place-Based Initiatives with useable data and analytics.
  • Helping Place-Based Initiatives to understand social services and system settings so they can reshape them through developing a set of decision rights maps.
  • Building a repository of knowledge – lessons learnt.
  • Strengthening communication with and between PBIs/Lead Agencies, including the development of a shared workspace.

Planning and Governance:

  • Co-ordinates input to MSD strategy, planning, and accountability and other reporting processes. This includes work on the Four Year Plan, Estimates, and the Annual Report.
  • Policy performance, measurement and reporting in relation to quality, cost, capability and Ministerial satisfaction.
  • Work planning and management support, including in relation to risk.
  • Business process and corporate management support, including tracking Ministerial reports and Cabinet papers, co-ordinating input to OIA responses, and communications.

Social System Policy:

  • Leading the cross-agency working group that is preparing the social systems budget package.
  • Coordinating the social sector response on the refresh of the Better Public Services Results.
  • Managing the reporting of Better Public Services results.
  • Collaborating with the Auckland Regional Office to grow and develop Social Sector priorities, including social housing, transport, and a South Auckland Place-Based Initiative.

Working Age Policy

Our purpose is to provide advice to Ministers and other decision makers about how to get people into work and to ensure that there is a safety net and adequate income for those who are unable to work.

Who we are:

We work closely with our colleagues in Service Delivery to develop policy advice and support implementation. We also work with a range of stakeholders including disabled people’s organisations, beneficiary advocates, family groups, providers, non-governmental organisations and other government agencies.

What we do

The Working Age Policy group provides advice to the government on getting people into work and income support. We also provide advice on poverty, support after a natural disaster and how to apply social investment approaches to welfare. Our work programme priorities for 2017 are:

  • Better Public Services Results Area One, Reducing welfare dependency.
  • Transforming the disability support system based on the Enabling Good Lives vision and principles.
  • Supporting the simplification programme to make our service delivery fit for purpose and ensuring our practice is aligned with the legislation.