Budget 2019: Billions of dollars for mental health, children, beneficiaries - and trains

Budget 2019 has been announced, revealing billions of dollars in funding for mental health, families, KiwiRail and infrastructure for schools and hospitals.

What stands out?

The Government is investing $1.9 billion in improving mental health services - something it heavily foreshadowed ahead of the Wellbeing Budget's release.

That includes a $455 million package to offer frontline services for 325,000 people who need mental health support before they experience major problems.

It's also injecting a significant amount of money into trying to improve families' wellbeing through a $1.1 billion investment in child poverty reduction.

The Budget sets aside $256.6 million in operational funding to provide a payment of $150 per student to decile 1-7 state and state-integrated schools that "agree not to request donations from parents".  

That's on top of the Government's recent announcement that the $76.60 NCEA fees that families pay every year would be scrapped.

To help beneficiaries, $320.2 million over four years has been set aside to index benefits to average wage increases. Currently, benefits are indexed to the Consumer Price Index.

The Government already announced earlier this month it would allocate more than $200 million over four years to respond to recommendations to improve the welfare system.

KiwiRail is another big winner in Budget 2019 - a boost of over $1 billion in funding for the programme to support its redevelopment.

Much of that will go towards buying new wagons and upgrading existing tracks, with $35 million to investigate purchasing new Cook Strait ferries.

Schools will get $1.2 billion over 10 years to support school property investment. That compares to $1.7 billion for hospitals and facilities over two years - $850 million each year.

The Government's said one of its five Budget priorities is to lift Māori opportunities, and that includes an $80 million boost for Whanau Ora over four years.

New Zealand's spy agencies will get a $50 million boost, with $11 million in operating funding for the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (NZSIS), and $39 million for the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB).

The Government has also increased the rolling four-year capital allowance announced in December 2018 and will now spend another $1.7 billion to total $14.8 billion.