SociaLink’s draft submission to the Tauranga City Council’s Long Term Plan follows. Please feel free to comment back to liz@socialink.org.nz, or to copy and use the material for your own submissions. Please also read our other submission which is on our own behalf. Your support for that submission would be much appreciated.

This submission is based on feedback from the social sector, more specifically from social services that attended the Long Term Plan workshop SociaLink hosted and from the SmartGrowth Social Sector Forum.  More information about SociaLink is outlined at the end of the submission.

The social sector recognise the considerable pressure on Tauranga City Council to limit rates increases.  The majority of community wellbeing activities and facilities delivered by Council account for just 11% of all Council costs (libraries, arts, heritage, culture and community development).  The vast majority of Council costs and presumably the lion’s share of proposed rates increases are for infrastructure requirements.  Any significant reduction in rates is not likely to be achieved from ‘savings’ from community wellbeing activities and facilities given they comprise just over 10% of all costs.  Consideration of the opportunity costs of not funding, for example, the Merivale Community Centre (i.e. providing a community space for locals to meet, learn, share, recreate) also needs to be considered.

Integral to achieving the Tauranga City Council vision of a ‘higher standard for all’ is ‘social capital’ or the ‘glue’ that holds communities together.  Social capital has a large and well-evidenced impact on economic performance, democratic functioning, public safety, educational outcomes, labour market outcomes, and individual health and wellbeing.  Social Capital refers to:

  • Networks, attitudes and norms promoting coordination and collaboration between people;
  • Individuals’ social connections that provide emotional, instrumental and informational support[1].

Whilst much of the responsibility for ‘social capital’ lies with central government, local government and communities also have a key role.  The likely  reinstatement of the ‘four well beings’ into the Local Government Act further acknowledges the value role of local leadership in promoting social and cultural well being.

It is with this lens that the social sector commends Council and identifies areas requiring further attention.

The Social Sector supports:

  • Recognition of the value of activities that support communities and culture and the associated increased funding of community and cultural activities.
  • The joint work TCC undertakes with WBOPDC and BOPRC, recognising the interconnectedness of the city and the district.
  • Principles outlined in the Planning and Working Together section of the LTP and the draft Community Wellbeing Strategy.
  • The work of the Community and Culture Committee and the Community Development team.
  • All work undertaken to ensure there is sufficient affordable, adequate and suitable housing in existing and new communities.
  • Increased engagement and partnership with local iwi and hapu to progress shared aspirations.
  • Community Development Match funds for community organisations.
  • The work of the Tauranga Western Bay Safer communities.
  • Recognition of the growing cultural diversity of the city through the ‘Welcoming Communities’ initiative
  • The provision of community facilities accessible to the public e.g. Merivale Community centre.
  • Upgrade of and support from the Historic Village for The Kollective.
  • Funding for the implementation of the Arts and Culture Strategy in recognition of the key role of the arts and culture in bringing communities together.

Areas the Social Sector recommends further attention:

  • Occupation of Council land – whilst it is appreciated that Council wishes to ensure community groups pay the same amount for leasing Council owned land, for those organisations whose leases are costing considerably more than has been the case, that Council identify a mechanism that better recognises the inability of some organisations to be able to pay these costs, recognising the loss to communities if these organisations are no longer able to operate.
  • Housing – Access to adequate and affordable housing is a fundamental human right and need that behoves those, such as local government, who have influence over the provision of housing to do whatever is in their power to do to achieve this. Bolder leadership to reflect community needs for sufficient affordable, adequate and suitable housing in existing and new communities is required.  For example, inclusionary zoning, increased intervention to ensure developers construct housing at a range of price points, reflecting the income of the population.
  • Elder housing – without information about the various options Council considered, the preferred option to sell Councils elder housing portfolio would seem to be a missed opportunity to consider how Council could either retain the land or partner with community housing providers to increase the provision of affordable housing.
  • In addition to public transport alleviating congestion, many people on low incomes rely on low cost public transport so recommend increasing the provision of public transport .
  • Build on and increase joint initiatives between TCC and WBOPDC.
  • Given the importance of social capital to achieving ‘higher standards for all’, social capital needs to be measured and monitored. Treasury is exploring how they can measure and monitor social, natural, financial/physical and human capital through the development of a Living Standards framework.  It is recommended that Council and SmartGrowth consider how they can similarly measure social capital at a local level. Equally, natural (environment) capital is also necessary to achieve ‘higher standards for all’ so also support a similar approach to value and measure natural capital.

Who is SociaLink?

The Social Sector Innovation Trust (SSIT) was established in 2012 following broad discussions with the wider network of social organisations in the Western Bay of Plenty. The sector sought a vehicle to facilitate capability and capacity building within the sector, to provide a collective social sector voice and become more connected to and valued in community, city and regional decision making.

In most other sectors there exists an umbrella organisation that works with the sector – building, growing, supporting and advocating. Just as Creative BOP is to the arts sector, Sport BOP is to the sporting sector; SociaLink aims to be for the social sector.

The need for a well connected social sector was also recognised by SmartGrowth as critical to sub-regional wellbeing, community building and to support a sustainable economy.

Our vision is “a valued and connected social sector”

Our purpose is to provide value adding support for social services and community organisations that deliver social outcomes through information gathering, analysis and action that facilitates networking, collaboration, learning, research and advocacy.

SociaLink has a high level of engagement with the sector with over 900 organisations and individuals subscribing to our newsletter and nearly 1500 hits per month on the website.

Socialink currently offers the following services:

  • One-on-one support for a social service wanting to grow or address organisational issues
  • Provide training (currently a year long leadership programme and a 6 month evaluation programme) and networking events
  • Newsletters with relevant information, training opportunities, job vacancies etc
  • Supports organisations to work together to address social issues e.g. Breakthrough Forum.
  • Assist social services to access and use digital technology to improve efficiency and for fund raising (e.g.. Online fund raising tools).
  • Research, policy and advocacy including undertaking a Mapping the Social Sector project which involves meeting with as many social services in the western Bay of Plenty to better understand the services they provide, their organisational needs etc
  • Manages The Kollective which is a co-working facility for not for profit organisations with the aim of improving collaboration between organisations (due to be complete in August 2018). This will include the development of discounted back office services for social services as a means of reducing organisational operational costs.
  • Support groups of agencies working together on a social issue to be able to generate income and become more financially sustainable.

[1] https://treasury.govt.nz/information-and-services/nz-economy/living-standards-0