Budget Briefing

Social Development

26 February 2002
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Meeting report

PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT

SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
27 February 2002
BUDGET BRIEFING

Chairperson:
Mr E Saloojee

Documents handed out
Department of Social Development Powerpoint Presentation

SUMMARY
Director General briefed the Committee on the achievements and objectives of the department. The budget was carefully explained discussing increased spending and projections for the next financial year.

Priority areas for improvements were identified. These included, greater focus on the issue of child abuse, increased spending to counter the spread of HIV/AIDS and improved training and financial management systems within the department.

During the discussion, the need to improve the working conditions of social workers was extensively dealt with. The Committee agreed that there had to be action on this issue this year.

MINUTES
Ms Bester proceeded through the Powerpoint presentation. [Please refer to attached Powerpoint presentation].

Priorities for 2001/2002
She emphasized the department's intentions to adopt a more systematic approach to poverty relief. The increased focus on dealing with HIV/AIDS was also mentioned.

Allocation 2001/2002
Ms Bester discussed the allocation of funds for the previous year.  The adjustments estimate included in the allocation, was as a result of the need for money for disaster relief programmes. Therefore, the over-expenditure amount was a projection only and the exact figures would be clearer later in the year.

MTEF - National Department
The substantial increases for the years 2002/03 were explained. The significant percentage increase was as a result of the National Development Agency (NDA) being transferred to the Minister of Social Development.

Departmental Budget 2002/2003
Ms Bester explained in more detail how restructuring within the department led to an increase in personnel allocation.

Social Security 2001/2002
Ms Bester discussed the amendments to Regulations to Social Assistance Act. It was mentioned that Cabinet approved the amendments after extensive consultations with the portfolio committee.

Child Suport Grants
The Committee was briefed on Child Support Grants within the respective provinces. There needed to be a review of these targets but the aim was still to achieve three million overall.

Social Security 2002/03
Social Security for 2002/03 issues were discussed in length. The need to replace the software system, for which a tender had been put out, as well as the need to introduce training programmes for social security officials were mentioned. In terms of training it was stated that a course was being designed for officials.

Welfare Services 2001-2003
The issue of child abuse was extensively discussed. The need to finalise the Child Care Act, Child Protection Registrar and Child abuse protocols were a priority. Another priority was to lessen the time children spent in prison awaiting trial. The need for new legislation to be introduced this year was also mentioned. The committee was told that they would be briefed on the Child Abuse hearings to be held later in the year.

HIV/AIDS 2001/2002
Ms Bester dealt with progress and objectives for dealing with HIV/AIDS. Progress was made through working in combination with the department of health and various NGOs in assisting to set-up home-based or community-based care sites. In terms of objectives, priority was given to improving the accuracy of information on how many children were infected.     

Non-Profit Organisations
She focused on the need for organizations to comply with the new legislation and the rules of the department.

The presentation ended with an outline of the cross-cutting priorities for 2002/03 and an explanation on the functioning of the department. Priority areas mentioned included, the need to strengthen volunteerism. This would be done in addition to the general Presidential call for more volunteerism. A SADC conference on volunteerism was planned for April/May this year. In terms of moral regeneration, the focus was on dealing with the issue of child abuse.

In outlining the functioning of the department, the DG showed the improvement in African representation within the department. The continuing recruitment drive would assist in this regard.
Other progress was achieved in financial management, which ensured that the department would now run more efficiently.

Discussion
A number of questions and points of clarity were brought up by Committee members.

The problem of insufficient markets for poverty relief programmes in the deep rural areas was mentioned. How could this situation be improved?

-The DG stated that projects in the rural areas needed to be clustered to enhance the capacity to uplift the community. Further, greater quality controls were required to ensure products were viable on a particular market.

Was there any progress in improving secure care facilities to ensure that young children could be accommodated properly?
-Each province had at least one such facility. A problem often arose because of the distance between the secure care facility and other centers within a province. In this regard there were problems in the Western Cape, KZN and Gauteng.

The issue of crisis centers in crime ridden areas was then addressed. Could more centers be established to ensure various criminal offenders were not released back into their communities.

- DG stated that currently there were 100 crisis centers around the country. However, she admitted that there were not enough centers for female offenders. This was being addressed in the justice forum.

It was asked if anything was being done to assess the impact of poverty alleviation projects.

-DG said that more time was needed to assess the projects properly. In September this year there would be an assessment of the last three years.

On the issue of disaster relief - what assistance were given to the communities in these areas?

-Relief was generally given in two different ways. Firstly, immediate social relief, and secondly, small amounts of money as support for material losses. 

The issue of improving the working conditions of social workers was then discussed  at length.How could the department ensure that social workers within NGOs could get improved salaries.

Could the department interact with the department of education and various universities to improve the quality and numbers of social workers trained.

-The issue of improved salaries could only be addressed by increasing subsidies to various NGOs. The chairperson added that the issue of poor salaries and working conditions for social workers was a constant problem. Minimal advancements had been made in four years despite an acknowledgement of the problem.

How could Committee members access projects to evaluate their progress and suggest possible improvements.

-The DG answered that substantial lists had been compiled and would be updated regularly.

The chairman stated that there were a number of issues that still needed to be discussed. He suggested that workshops be held to ensure that issues were discussed separately and in a substantial way.

The meeting was then adjourned.               

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