Local government funding and financing

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The Productivity Commission has completed its inquiry into local government funding and financing and presented its final report and recommendations to Government. The final report, summary material, research reports and submissions are available below.

Thanks to all those who contributed to this important inquiry!

Local government funding and financing

Timeline

  • Our brief
    16 July 2018
  • Issues paper
    6 November 2018
  • Submissions closed 15 February 2019
  • Draft report
    4 July 2019
  • Submissions closed 29 August 2019
  • Final report
    30 November 2019
  • Evaluation
    December 2019
  • Government response
    2020

The inquiry

The Government asked the Productivity Commission to examine options and approaches for improving the system of local government funding and financing. Read our brief here.

The Commission received and considered 270 submissions, held more than 75 face-to-face meetings with individuals, government and non-government organisations and firms throughout New Zealand, carried out five case studies, commissioned research and conducted in-depth analysis. Our final report presents 78 findings and 44 recommendations.


What did the inquiry find?

Radical reform is not required. The current rates-based system remains appropriate for New Zealand. International experience offers no clearly superior alternative.

But there are areas of significant funding pressure. These pressures are highly uneven across councils with small, rural councils serving low-income communities under particular pressure.

Targeted solutions are needed to tackle these pressures. Key recommendations include new tools to help councils fund and manage growth, and additional support from central government to help councils adapt to major pressures, such as climate change.

Councils need to lift their performance to help manage funding pressures. This includes making better use of all existing funding tools. Transparency is key, and a number of recommendations are aimed at improving the transparency of local government funding decisions and performance.

A better relationship between central and local government is essential. An agreed protocol would help end the practice of central government imposing responsibilities on local government, without appropriate funding. The Crown should also be paying for council services it receives on its properties and developments.

Regional spatial planning will better prepare councils for the future. It's a key tool for achieving more efficient use of resources, and better coordination between councils, and local and central government.

Find out more by reading the final report and summary documents:

What's next?

Our final report has been presented to the House of Representatives and we look forward to the Government's response. Please see below for useful documents available to download, including a number of supporting research reports.

An independent evaluation of the Commission’s performance will now be undertaken and the findings shared here.


Key documents