Funding for the Families Commission has been halved and the number of commissioners cut from seven to one, under a major restructure unveiled today.
Social Development Minister Paula Bennett has announced the Families Commission will see $14.2 million of the $32.48 million it receives over the next four years "reprioritised" into setting up a Social Policy Evaluation and Research Unit.
The unit will provide independent monitoring, evaluation and contracting of research on social sector programmes.
"This restructure will see the Families Commission take on a new role providing for independent monitoring, evaluation and research to measure the effectiveness of initiatives for families and society," said Bennett.
"There will be a single Commissioner, down from the original seven and the organisation will be governed by a board comprising public sector, philanthropic and academic representatives," said Bennett.
A new Family Status Report will also be developed to measure how New Zealand families are getting on in response to changes in the economic and social climate.
The restructure - expected to be completed by early next year - is in response to recommendations made by the Prime Minister's chief science advisor Professor Sir Peter Gluckman.
He identified a gap in monitoring, evaluation and research in the social services sector.
The changes also give effect to National's confidence and supply agreement with United Future.
United Future leader Peter Dunne today welcomed the restructuring of the Families Commission, saying the new focus on independent monitoring, evaluation and research brings it closer to its original purpose.
Dunne said the changes had been decided in coalition negotiations with Prime Minister John Key after last November's election.
"I am on the record as saying the Families Commission lost its
way early on under Labour administrations that milk-sopped it into
a politically correct institution," said Dunne.
"We live in a frenetic, fast-changing world, and families are buffeted by constant social and economic changes.
"That is going to be crucial in helping shape government policy and legislation in the years ahead."
Legislative changes will be needed to broaden the focus of the Commission's function and to implement new arrangements.
A further $4 million over four years will be redirected to fund extra parenting programmes and relationship education in schools and the Prime Minister's Youth Mental Health programme.