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Agreed approach to working with contracted social service providers

Government agencies that fund the provision of social services have been meeting to align how they will support and work with their provider partners. This has included representatives from MSD, Oranga Tamariki, ACC, the Ministry of Justice, Corrections, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education and others.

In principle, we have agreed the following approach:

  1. We will pay NGOs until the end of June as if service delivery had continued at current levels (except for ACC services where this is not permitted within the law). We will not hold back funding because of under-delivery against contracts for the next 4 months (at least). For existing social service contracts paid on a fee for service basis, which COVID-19 will prevent being delivered in the coming months, we will pay based on current trends (eg payment for next 4 months at same level as average of the previous 4 months, or same period last year).
  2. We will give as much certainty on future funding as possible
    We want to give our partners and their staff as much certainty as possible. We will provide clarity on the situation post-June 2020 as soon as possible. Where possible, funding levels will be maintained, although services may need to change (eg employment services may be reshaped to reflect the changing economic picture).
  3. We commit to working smartly with NGO social service partners so that we are (a) increasingly joined-up across funding agencies; and, (b) our interactions are balanced equally between information gathering and seeking the views of community organisations about any help they need to better support their communities.
  4. We commit to supporting NGOs to be flexible to the needs of their communities (ie working outside their contracts for a period). We want to enable partners to play their part in the wider community response to COVID-19.
  5. We will actively support collaborative efforts at a community level – eg Community Assessment Hubs, collective impact models etc. Let us know how we can help.
  6. We will support NGOs wherever possible to remove barriers to people receiving assistance (eg people having to prove they have been to Work and Income before being able to access support).
  7. We will not require any reporting information to be submitted for the final quarter of the 2019/20 financial year (ie for April to June 2020) unless this information is required by legislation (eg court mandated services). Please contact your relationship or contract manager if you are unsure. Social service providers will still be expected to collect core business information (eg numbers of people supported etc) during this period so that, as the situation returns to normal, data on service delivery can be brought together, and we can better understand the impact of Covid-19 on social service organisations and the people and communities they support. Some NGOs providing essential services will be approached about providing more frequent high-level reporting. This will ensure that trends in demand for essential services can be understood and responded to in a timely way.

The application of these principles will vary between agencies and their providers in response to their specific circumstances. Further information will be provided by your funder around how these principles apply to the contracts you have with them.

Information on future funding

In the coming financial year, we know that the social services sector will face new challenges as a result of the social and economic impacts of COVID-19. The Government, iwi and Māori organisations, NGOs and communities need to work together to meet those challenges and make sure that people get the support they need.

We're keen to work with you as our partners to understand the medium to long term impacts of COVID-19 and to develop responses to the challenges and opportunities that emerge. We need to make sure that our combined resources are focused on the support and services that communities need. There are some good joint projects underway within the sector already that we can build on and we want to maintain the levels of engagement we’ve been able to achieve recently.

The full Government response to the crisis is under development. The Budget 2020 decisions are being worked through and will be announced in due course.

We recognise that changing needs may require us to re-direct our efforts and resources. Unfortunately that means we can’t guarantee that contracts and funding levels for some organisations and services will stay the same.

As the Government’s funders of social services, we're committed to acting fairly and in accordance with our values. This means that:

  • Where an organisation’s funding is tied to delivery of volumes that have been affected by COVID-19, we will take reasonable steps to ensure business continuity.
  • Where we have already started discussions on ending or reducing a contract (eg because a service is not being fully utilised), these discussions will continue.
  • Where contracts are due for renewal, we’ll follow the usual practices, which includes giving notice of any intention to end the contract, extend it or make any other changes that are needed.
  • Where multi-year contracts are in place and we need to respond to changing needs before the end of the contract term, we will give at least the required period of notice (and longer where we can) of any changes. We'll also enter good faith negotiations to cover the reasonable organisational costs of any changes.

We realise that some organisations may see their overall income reduce as a result of a reduction in charitable donations or revenue from other sources. In the short term, the Government's financial support package, including the Wage Subsidy scheme, is the primary source of support for organisations in this position.

The Government’s funding agencies and other stakeholders (eg philanthropic funders) will be working closely together over the coming months to coordinate our efforts to support our community sector partners and all New Zealanders in response to the impacts of COVID-19.

If you have any questions around the above, or if your organisation is not able to deliver against contracted volumes or other specifications, please contact your relationship or contract manager.

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