The Deputy Minister pledged the cooperation of the Ministry and Department to the work of the Committee. The Department of Social Development (DSD) then noted its key strategic priorities as including child poverty, adult and older person’s poverty, issues of social cohesion, which included substance abuse, youth development, sector capacity building, governance and institutional development and establishing regional and international solidarity and engagement. The performance targets for the areas of Comprehensive Social Security, Welfare Services and Community Development were outlined. Planning and service delivery following the customer-centred model and improvement of accountability were also outlined. The financial presentation noted spending of 94% of the budget, but mentioned that rollovers had been requested. The rollovers from one year to the next did create some problems as there were competing funding priorities which then could compromise the work. The Occupation Specific Dispensation was one of the areas where a rollover had been requested. The Appeal Tribunal and its backlog were proving costly. The Department was hoping to achieve some savings, but cited the need for good and strong administration, international commitments and litigation costs as some of the pressures on the budget.
The National Development Agency briefed the Committee on its mandate, vision and mission. It was noted that it contributed to the eradication of poverty and implemented development projects, strengthened institutional capacity of other agencies, promoted consultation and dialogue and undertook research and publication. It had worked since its inception with programmes in the areas of economic development, agriculture, capacity building, support, food security and income generation. It hoped to have raised R50 million in total by 2012.
The South African Social Security Agency described its reach and the main grants that it administered, noting that about a quarter of the population was receiving some form of social grant. Its vision was to provide comprehensive social security services, to assist people to become self-sufficient, and also to support those in need. The achievements in the last year were described. The three key priorities for the Medium Term Expenditure Framework lay in the areas of the customer care-centered benefits administration and management, covering the age equalization for old age grants, Child Support grants, auditing of beneficiaries and improving payment systems. The priority of organisational capacity included building infrastructure, which was currently inadequate, and combating fraud. The priority of achieving an integrated and comprehensive social security administration and management involved liaison and links with other departments, to ensure that all needs of all applicants were met, across the broader range. It aimed to develop skills so that people would cease, over time, to be dependent on grants. Challenges were identified as lack of infrastructure, lack of interface with data, and staff culture problems.
Members questions related to the situation and policies applying across regions and districts, how the National Department would deal with issues relating to provincial problems, the problems of infrastructure, including great distances between beneficiaries and offices, and how local government could assist in that regard, whether funding for the Occupation Specific Dispensation lay at national or provincial level, plans to promote cooperatives and sustainability, and lack of access to old age homes. Members asked how the entities were addressing fraud, whether assistance and advice was available to the elderly at pay points, whether there were education campaigns to educate people about their rights and lessen the chances of them being misled, what efforts were made to ease the move to electronic banking, whether the Department was promoting careers in social welfare, what happened when a beneficiary died, and the cessation of grants to certain HIV positive individuals. Other questions related to the efforts of this Department and entities to contribute towards job development, the use of consultants, whether the anti poverty campaign in Northern
Department of Social Development (DSD): Strategic Plan and Budget 2009-2014 presentation
Hon Bathabile Dlamini, Deputy Minister of Social Development, conveyed her hope that the Members and the officials of the Department and entities would be able to introduce and get to know each other. She invited Members to feel free, at any time, to raise matters with the Ministry or Department.
Mr Zane Dangor, Chief Operations Officer, Department of Social Development, briefly touched on the structure of the organization, the main thematic areas, and the Department’s key strategic priorities. These included tackling issues of child poverty, adult and older person’s poverty, issues of social cohesion, which included substance abuse, youth development, sector capacity building, governance and institutional development and establishing regional and international solidarity and engagement.
Mr Dangor set out the annual performance targets. In the area of Comprehensive Social Security, these included reduction of poverty, vulnerability and risk exposure through social assistance, improving the tribunal effectiveness and efficiency, setting up a comprehensive appeals stakeholder liaison framework, and reviewing and proposing reforms on the social security legislation around appeals.
In the area of Welfare services, the targets were to improve welfare service delivery by developing, piloting, then implementing norms and standards. It hoped to reduce substance abuse by developing regulations by 2010, transform services to older people by service delivery guidelines to be drawn by 2010, develop policies and strategies on disability by 2011, and have an integrated plan for the Family Policy by 2009. A shelter strategy and victim empowerment policy was also to be developed in this year. The implementation of the Children’s Act would also be worked upon.
Community Development would be concerned with protecting and empowering vulnerable youth, and youth services would have been audited by March 2010. The DSD aimed to complete and launch the sustainable livelihood toolkit for Community Development Practitioners by March 2010. It would develop a concept document on community food banks by March 2010, and establish community food banks in the following years. A national Community Development (CD) framework would focus on professionalism and skills development plans. All non profit organisations (NPOs) would be registered within two months of receiving applications. Guidelines to try to mitigate vulnerability to HIV infection by promoting behaviour change would be set up.
The Strategy and Governance targets included improving planning and service delivery, emphasising the customer centered service delivery model and improving accountability. He also mentioned improving corporate governance of public entities.
Mr Coceko Pakade, Chief Financial Officer, DSD, gave a brief overview of the DSD financial outlook for 2008/09. He noted that the DSD was also affected by the global economic meltdown. He noted the figures of spending, on slide 72, and said that the Department had spent 99.4% of the budget. He said that he did not want to dwell on the past, preferring to rather talk about the current budget. However, he briefly outlined some of the reasons for the under expenditure, such as compliance issues, and noted that the Department had requested National Treasury for a rollover of these funds, which were earmarked for particular projects. He spoke about the commitments from previous financial years, and noted that if the rollover of funds was not approved then these commitments would need to be funded from the new budget, which would pose a serious challenge to the Department. The catch-up of the year-on-year rollovers meant that there were competing funding priorities which then could compromise the work.
Mr Pakade drew Members’ attention to the 2009 Social Development Bids. DSD had requested R7 billion for these, but Child Support Grants were allocated R2.2 billion, and less funding was also given to SASSA than requested. Some allocations, mostly transfers to agencies, could not be used other than for stated purposes. One of the more costly priorities was the Appeal Tribunal, together with its backlog costs. He noted that the DSD estimated it would be able to achieve savings of R300 million of the R70 billion set aside for the grants allocation. He added that the Occupation Specific Dispensation (OSD) allocation in the previous budget needed to be rolled over to implement the OSD.
Mr Pakade outlined some of the challenges to the budget. He noted that administration, which took the bulk of the funding, was critical to support implementation of programmes. The Policy Development, Review and Implementation Support for Welfare Services was under pressure. Other pressures on the budget were occasioned by international commitments, and litigation costs on the grant applications and appeals. There was serious pressure on infrastructure, especially office accommodation. The establishment of the Social Security Inspectorate and Appeals Tribunal would cost a lot of money. The implementation of the Occupational Specific Dispensation (OSD) for Social Work Professionals, backdated from 1 April, also placed pressure. All these points had been raised with National Treasury.
National Development Agency (NDA) Strategic Plan and Budget
Ms Rashieda Issel, Acting Chief Executive Officer, National Development Agency, spoke briefly about the mandates, vision and mission of the NDA. She noted that its primary mandate lay in the contribution and eradication of poverty and its causes, in the implementation of developmental projects and strengthening of institutional capacity. The second mandate was to promote consultation and dialogue between civil society and the State, to debate developmental policy, and to undertake research and publication.
Since its inception in March 2000 it had been contributing to programmes in the areas of economic development, food security, community health and education. These had benefited 417 500 households, and indirectly resulted in benefits to over 2 million poor people.
At this point, Mr T Mashamaite (ANC) interjected that the members had not received documents.
The Chairperson replied that the documents had been submitted within the correct time frame. She asked that a copy of the presentation be handed to Members who did not seem to have received it.
Ms Yssel noted that the Strategic goals were to promote sustainable development, which would be done, for example, by NDA’s involvement in food security, income generation, agriculture and agri-business and capacity building and support projects. Secondly, it would promote organisational sustainability, with the ultimate aim of empowering vulnerable groups, and to get a better balance between the amount of funding made available to ultimate beneficiaries by reducing the costs of administration down to 35%. It hoped to raise R50 million by 2012. All the units would align with the NDA strategies.
South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) Strategic Plan and Budget
Ms Thandi Sibanyoni, Executive Manager: Internal Auditing, SASSA, set out the SASSA Strategic Plan for 2009 to 2012. She emphasised the need for and the Agency’s aspiration to move to a more holistic social security environment. SASSA provided coverage mainly for the State Old Age Programme (SOAP), the Child Support Grant (CSG), the Care Dependency Grant, the Grant In Aid, the Disability Grant, the Foster Child and Social Relief of Distress grants. It covered a quarter of the South African population under those programmes.
SASSA’s vision was to provide comprehensive social security services, to assist people to become self-sufficient, and also to support those in need. Its mission was to manage quality social security services effectively and efficiently for eligible and potential beneficiaries. Achievements in the last year were briefly set out as including additional pay points and mobile units, beneficiary information now being made available in all the national languages, standardised disability assessment and reduced turnaround time.
Ms Sibanyoni noted that there were three key priorities for the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF). The first, dealing with the customer care-centered benefits administration and management, would cover issues such as age equalisation, beneficiary maintenance framework, comprehensive payment management system and automation of core business systems for efficiency. It covered the extension and phasing in of the Child Support Grant up to the age of 18. The beneficiary maintenance framework to be developed would ensure that beneficiaries in the system were properly audited and were still entitled to receive benefits. Most beneficiaries were receiving their benefits currently in cash, but it was desirable to move towards direct banking.
The second priority of improved organisational capacity included building infrastructure, which was currently inadequate; the Agency had no building of its own and this increased the risk for fraud to occur. It also included a corporate compliance and integrity model to help prevent fraudulent access to grants in the first place.
The third priority was development of an integrated and comprehensive social security administration and management. The Case Management System meant that when a beneficiary was accepted into the social security system, not only would he or she receive a grant, but the associated needs (such as health or social development interventions) would also be identified and the necessary referrals made. She gave an example of a young mother who applied for a child support grant. SASSA would not only make sure that the grant was given and directed to the welfare of the child, but would also ensure that the child was taken to clinics and registered at school, and would also try to ensure that the mother also undertook some skills development so that she would, in time, contribute to her own welfare rather than relying on the grant.
Ms Sibanyoni listed some of the challenges facing SASSA. These included inadequate infrastructure, lack of interface with other sources of data held by other departments, and staff culture and attitude problems. She pledged that the Agency would work with the Committee.
The Chairperson, in inviting Members to ask questions, pointed out that the Committee had many new Members who must embark on a steep learning curve.
An ANC Member requested more information on the issue of regions and districts, and asked what the policy was concerning these different areas.
Mr T Mashamaite (ANC,
Mr Dangor said that regions and districts were linked, but that there was a definite lack of infrastructure to deliver services, with long distances and poor facilities being major challenges. He said that the Department was working closely with the NDA and SASSA, but that it would take a long time to sort out this issue, as there were many infrastructure strikes and backlogs. It had been identified as a key issue.
Ms Sibanyoni stressed that since SASSA was now a stand-alone institution, and since the Department was expanding, SASSA was in need of its own facilities. She said that the availability of proper offices would enable SASSA to give its applicants privacy and dignity.
Ms B Mncube (ANC,
Mr Dangor informed the Committee that the Department wanted to set up offices using a norm of 2 kilometres access, but had opted to use the national norm of 5 kilometers, and had put in a bid for that distance.
Ms Sibanyoni added to these comments, and said that SASSA was using local community structures to try to address the issue that people would have to travel long distances to access grants. She added that SASSA was in the process of tackling capacity problems by moving the right people to the right places and by encouraging people to use electronic or other banking services, rather than cash payments, so that SASSA would make savings that could be used to address other hurdles.
Mr W Terblanche, Regional Executive Manager, Western Cape, SASSA, added that in some points the turnaround time for services had also been reduced to one day, and that SASSA hoped that this would be the norm at all points within the next few years, which would also help to reduce costs of access.
Ms Mncube raised the controversial topic of OSD, and asked that lessons to be learned from the attempts to implement this at nurses’ level. She added that funding for the OSD may lie not at national but at provincial level.
Ms Mncube asked if there were any plans to promote the cooperatives.
Ms L Mxenge, Chief Director: Community Development, DSD, said that there were plans to try to utilise cooperatives. She said there was full recognition that the DSD dealt with the most poor and most vulnerable, and said that DSD was mindful of, and discussing all issues that were making people vulnerable, and trying to assist in providing for people’s sustainability. She noted that the DSD would work with other departments, and that there was a need for partnerships with the business sector to increase all aspects of the value chain.
Mr M De Villiers (DA,
Dr Maria Mabetoa, Deputy Director General: Welfare, DSD, conceded that the Department was aware that the demand for old age homes was higher than the number of places available. However, accessibility to these homes would vary between rural and urban areas. She stated that the Department was doing an audit of older persons to complete an analysis of the gap, and was also working with the NGOs involved in the running of the homes, to try to address shortages and to emphasise frail care needs.
Mr de Villiers also said that there was a problem with loan sharks approaching beneficiaries, and asked whether the DSD had any programme to educate people against getting involved with them.
Mr W Terblanche, Regional Executive Manager:
Mr de Villiers said that the re-engineering in the Western-Cape came at a great expense. He hoped that the re-engineering by DSD did not take the same route, because the bulk of its budget must go to the community.
Mr de Villiers requested more information on the rollover funds.
Mr de Villiers noted the need for banks to provide more ATMs for the banking services that the Department intended to utilise in its programmes.
Mr M Mofokeng, Chief Financial Officer, SASSA, said that SASSA was in contact with the banks to roll out more ATMs and was also discussing ways to obtain information on point-of-sale to see for what purpose the money was being spent.
Mr de Villiers highlighted the need for more social workers, saying that there was a need to speak to school leavers to attract them to this profession. He asked if there was a working relationship in this regard between the DSD and the Department of Education.
Dr Mabetoa informed the Committee that DSD was discussing the need to attract more social workers from school leavers with the Department of Education. She mentioned that in the past the challenges were who would pay for the social services as well as the shortage of social workers. However, making use of other social auxiliary services and workers could possibly alleviate the shortages.
Mr Mashamaite asked for an explanation as to why the presentation did not give details of the number of beneficiaries in the country.
Dr Mabetoa said that the Strategic Plan actually had mentioned the number of beneficiaries.
Mr Mashamaite stated that the grants to elderly people would end on their death, and asked that the Department should deal with that issue.
Mr Terblanche confirmed that there was a qualification relating to the old-age grants, in that there was provision that the family member responsible for the funeral was able to claim the outstanding amount of the grant for the month in which the deceased passed away, and any back-pay, to settle the costs of the funeral.
Mr Mashamaite said, in relation to elderly people, that sometimes they would not receive the full amount to which they were entitled from the officials paying out, and he asked if there were people available to assist the elderly to count their money. This also raised questions about the training level and honesty of the officials.
Mr Terblanche added that no hands should come between the beneficiary and the pay-point. He said that people could themselves ask a community leader for assistance in counting the money. However, if there were any indications that officials were not honest, then beneficiaries should inform the Agency, who would deal with the matter harshly.
Ms Sibanyoni said that SASSA was dealing with matters of fraud, and was trying to come up with a holistic programme to address it. Initiatives included a biometric to track who had accessed the system, stricter policy enforcement to regulate the conduct of staff, strengthening the practices and procedure of declarations of interest and more thorough vetting of staff being hired, which would include lifestyle audits of high risk staff.
Mr Mashamaite said, in relation to non profit organisations, that the Department had not indicated how many were registered in the previous year and how many applications had been received for this year.
Ms D Rantho (ANC) voiced her approval for the Department’s plan to improve customer care. She enquired what the national Department would do if it became aware that a province or its staff was not performing in an acceptable way.
Ms Mxenge said that there was a national task team, in which the DSD was involved, to develop integrated baskets of services that targeted immediate, medium and long-term issues.
The Chairperson queried what the contribution of the Department was towards the 500 000 jobs mentioned in the State of the Nation Address.
Ms Mxenge highlighted that the DSD would contribute to the creation of 500 000 jobs through facilitation of the National Youth Programme and the Mazibukwe Cadre Programme in the Expanded Public Works Programme. She added that there was also a need to identify other areas, linked to social co-operatives, that contributed to building skills.
Mr Dangor said that as far as the Expanded Public Works Programme went, the National DSD would probably be able to contribute about 5 000 to 8 000 jobs. Involvement in other areas, such as community-based healthcare, could raise this figure.
The Chairperson probed the utilisation of consultants, and asked how this could be reduced.
Mr Dangor advised that there was a team including the DSD, SASSA, the NDA and others that was looking at human resources issues and reorientation of the staff. The use of consultants was recognised to be a cost constraint. The Department had developed a programme to have a consultancy unit, staffed by internal people trained to take on consultancy-type functions, and this would keep these resources within the Department. He acknowledged that there still might be work needing to be outsourced, but that this would be done to improve service delivery.
The Chairperson noted that at some stage an anti-poverty programme had been launched in the Northern Cape, enquired as to its progress, and questioned the role of the Department, and how it intended expanding it to other provinces.
The Chairperson noted that the issue of substance abuse was still prevalent.
Dr Mabetoa said that the DSD was intending to intensify its Imoja programme and establish as many local forums as possible. She pointed out that there was a need for a more comprehensive approach that not only focused on youth but also on adults.
The Chairperson asked what was the nature of the litigation that the Social Security Agency had highlighted in its presentation.
Ms Mncube raised her concern that when the CD count of an HIV patient rose to 400 the grant would be withdrawn, and enquired if this issue was located within DSD or the Department of Health.
Mr Selwyn Jehoma, Deputy Director General: Social Security, DSD stated that this issue fell within the DSD. He informed Members that the DSD was working with the Department of Health to initiate an income support for chronic illnesses. He stressed that this was listed as a priority by the Cluster, and that DSD would be able to brief the Committee further on the measures within the next two months.
The meeting was adjourned.
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