Chapter 12
The case for a government body

Funding a commission

12.21The establishment of a commission would inevitably involve costs. The extent to which this could be redistributed funded and the extent to which additional government funding is required is unclear and requires detailed financial analysis. We note the $10.4 million funding boost to stabilise the sector in the short term (provided in the 2014 Budget) and that there are already significant drains on this funding pool.

12.22Financing decisions remain within the scope and domain of Cabinet and accordingly we do not address the financial implications in great depth here, however we do make some comments in accordance with the focus on reform being discussed here.732
12.23The traditional model for funding a commission is Crown funding with some limited additional revenue from, for example, interest and investment payments. The budget for a commission can be relatively modest so for example, in 2014 the Children’s Commissioner received total revenue of $2,271,000.733
12.24In 2014 the Health and Disability Commissioner received approximately $11 million in Crown funding, but we note that the Health and Disability Commissioner has a vast mandate across the health system.734
12.25An alternative option to meet some of the costs of a commission is the model provided by the Productivity Commission. The Commission is staffed by three Commissioners and a Board (as required per the Crown Entities Act 2013) but the “overall approach to resourcing is to employ people who can add significant value to any inquiry, supplemented by secondments, fixed-term contractors and, as required, use of specialist consultants to bring fresh perspectives and experience”, totalling 20 staff on a mix of fixed term and permanent contracts (including internships).735 The benefit of this arrangement is that it permits specialists to be employed for discrete topics, ensuring the level of expertise remains high and the work-plan remains issues-focused.

12.26Accordingly, there are several models in terms of size and budget for a commission entity in New Zealand. Given the scope of functions highlighted above and the need for a strong profile, wide representation and consultative abilities, we would anticipate that a commission would be comparable in size either to the Children’s Commissioner (which has 13 staff, a lead commissioner and deputy commissioner and operates on a budget of approximately $2.3 million dollars) or the Productivity Commission (which has three commissioners, a staff of 15 and a budget of approximately $5 million dollars).

732We note the current interest in the social impact bond (SIB) model and ongoing work by the Ministry of Health to explore the potential for adopting the SIB model in New Zealand. In its Social Bonds Cabinet Paper, the Ministry of Health defined social bonds as “an innovative form of social sector investment in which private capital and expertise are deployed for a social purpose. Social bonds enable working capital to be raised from investors to meet the costs of new services, or to scale up existing services. If better outcomes are achieved, government repays the capital invested, plus a return”: Cabinet Paper “Social Bonds Cabinet Paper – Proposal for a New Zealand Pilot” (August 2013) at [3]. We do not, however, consider that the SIB model would be suitable for crisis management in the direct aftermath of sexual violence. This is an area that requires sustainable and guaranteed funding, and in addition the desired outcomes (linked to a positive victim experience) are different for every victim and accordingly not measurable as required pursuant to the SIB model.
733Children’s Commissioner Annual Report (2014) at 26.
734Health and Disability Commissioner Annual Report (2014) at 60.
735Productivity Commission Annual Report (2014) at 3.