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Report shows investment in Taita is paying off - HCC

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Many aspects of life in Taita are on the improve, especially for young people, according to analysis carried out to look at the impact of investment in that community by Hutt City Council and others.

Meaningful social development has been a priority for Council for the past 5 years, with a focus on young people in the North East.

Data company Dot Loves Data has used its Dynamic Deprivation Index to analyse the impact of investment by HCC and others into the Taita community over the last 5 years. The analysis, shared with Council's Community Services Committee tonight, shows areas where there is a correlation between investment and some improved community outcomes.

The analysis shows that educational outcomes are up, fewer young people are getting in trouble at school, and more are getting engaged in extra-curricular activities - all environmental factors that can result in better long-term outcomes. It also shows that crime rates in Taita have fallen between 2014 and 2018 and participation in sport is up.

Lower Hutt Mayor Ray Wallace says while there remain serious broader challenges associated with high deprivation, it's pleasing to see signs that things are getting better.

"In recent years we've built the new Walter Nash Centre and computer clubhouse in Taita which are both well supported and highly valued by the community," he said.

"Council's strategy is rejuvenation of the city, both economic and social. We want Lower Hutt to be a great place for everyone to live, work and play. For us to succeed, every Lower Hutt resident has to have the chance to reach their own potential."

HCC's Manager of Community and City services Matt Reid says Council's focus has been on improving the lives of tamariki in the north east to try and break the cycle of generational poverty. As part of this work, Council recently partnered with TAKA Trust, Chorus, the Ministry of Education and Crown company Network for Learning (N4L) to pilot a programme that's seen 125 tamariki in the North East given chrome books and access to WiFi at home in an effort to lessen the digital divide.

"It's great to see the efforts and investment of Council and others looks to be resulting in some material improvements in areas that we know are key in shaping long-term outcomes for our tamariki," Matt Reid says.

"Three out of five people in high deprivation generally stay in that way of living for life. Our challenge is how to break that. We want to grow kids' learning ambitions and aspirations so we get a generational change."

Matt Reid says the analysis also highlighted areas of ongoing concern, including the rate of harmful gambling going up, unemployment levels having stagnated, and both benefit claimant rates and the proportion of single parents not following the national reduction.

HCC's Divisional Manager Strategy and Planning Wendy Moore says this is the first time Council has been able to look at the overall impact of investment in one area of the community.

"Previous studies we've done have shown that our investment in key services such as museums, libraries and pools is delivering value for money for ratepayers. We've now also started to use Social Return on Investment studies as a way to test the value of our social development work. This work helps us identify areas where we need to do more in depth research to test our intervention logic for specific projects. "

Wendy Moore says a recent study on the Youth Inspire programme, completed by Hutt City Council and public policy consultants Allen+Clarke, has shown a Social Return on Investment (SROI) of $11.60 for every dollar invested.

"That programme has helped over 600 young people into employment since 2014 and is also providing benefits to our local businesses. The Walter Nash Centre and Taita will be the next area we will be looking at through this lens."

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