6 May 2015

PM defends Whanau Ora over funding

6:21 pm on 6 May 2015

Prime Minister John Key is defending his Government's Whanau Ora programme and monies spent after being grilled in the House by the opposition.

John Key during caucas run 5/5/15

John Key during caucas run 5/5/15 Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

The social policy has come under scrutiny after the release of an Auditor-General report, which said a greater proportion of spending could have been directed to families.

The Labour Party said a thorough investigation was needed into the way Whanau Ora funds had been used.

Labour Leader Andrew Little said the Auditor-General, Lyn Provost, should clarify her claims that Whanau Ora's lead agency, Te Puni Kokiri, spent a third of its funding on administration.

"When she makes a claim about $42 million going into administration as opposed to frontline services, what does that actually mean and if the defence from Whanau Ora providers is that it has gone into upfront one-off costs then let's have that confirmed and quantified and established so that we're clear about it."

But Mr Key said the money had been accounted for.

"TPK has had its own audit and it's come through its audit with flying colours so I don't think there's an issue there. I think in the early days there was quite a bit spent on administration...

"It is evolving as a programme and we are trying something new and sometimes when you try something new, yep, there are some teething issues from day one but I think it is progressing quite well."

Later, Mr Little took the opportunity to grill the Prime Minister in the House.

Auditor-General Lyn Provost.

Auditor-General Lyn Provost. Photo: OFFICE OF AUDITOR-GENERAL

Mr Key maintained the programme was proving to be a success.

"This is a new way of doing things - putting families at the heart of solving those issues - with a navigator - with these commissioning agents and I do think it is building into a programme that is delivering results."

Opposition parties were granted an urgent debate on Whanau Ora in Parliament this afternoon.

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