The Departments of Social Development (DSD) and South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) presented their Annual Reports for 2012/13 to the Select Committee. The highlights included the fact that the DSD and SASSA had both received an unqualified audit. DSD noted the statistics for those receiving the old age grants, Child Support Grant and welfare services, including community based care and support. The total number of children accessing Early Childhood Development (ECD) programmes had increased by 15% to 124 870. There was an increase of children in foster care, by 31%, to 157 024. The White Paper on Families was finalised and approved by Cabinet in May 2013. A national framework for accreditation of organisations providing anti human-trafficking services was developed, together with the establishment of four shelters for victims of human trafficking. Four provinces were capacitated to implement Anti Substance Abuse Programmes of Action. In terms of social policy and integrated service delivery 187 703 households were given sustainable food support in all of the provinces.
Members were pleased to hear of the unqualified audit but questioned a number of other issues. They asked abut the appeals process for the disability grants, noting that only 46% had been finalised, and wanted to know if DSD was short-staffed. Many Members asked why targets were not reached, especially since almost 99% spending was achieved. They asked when the White Paper on Families would be rolled out, when the drug plans would be rolled out and what was meant by constraints in social security, internally. They were concerned about supply chain management. The Early Childhood Development programmes in Mpumalanga were questioned, and it was suggested that more standardisation was required. The Chairperson asked why the Department had mentioned internal constraints in social security and what it was planning to overcome this problem. The Members felt that whilst reports may look good on paper, there were problems with what was happening in practice. They questioned what was happening in the legal services programme, and one Member felt that several problems remained to be addressed, including supply chain, spending on the Child Support Grant, and how targets had been exceeded when there was no increase in the budget, asking if this pointed to money being shifted around between programmes. One Member cited instances where community members had complained that food parcels were being stored and going bad before being delivered.
South African Social Security Agency described the grants trend, and noted an improvement of business procedures at all levels and an improvement in the turnaround time to process social grant applications within a target of 21 days. There was an improvement in the payment process, with a total of 18.9 million people who were successfully registered into the new system. SASSA aimed to create fully automated systems to improve administration of social assistance, and had adopted a fraud management programme with a zero tolerance approach to fraud and corruption. It needed to improve its organisational capacity, particularly at service delivery points. Its major challenges were the payment tender court case, complaints about deductions on SASSA cards, and the fact that SASSA had had to close some offices where there had been corruption of employees. Members asked if employees were required to repay wasteful expenditure such as traffic fines, asked how money could be deducted, and enquired about the offices in Jeffreys Bay that were closed. They asked about risk management measures, and particularly how SASSA ensured that it stopped payments when beneficiaries died. They asked if there had been rollovers from the budget.
Department of Social Development: Annual Report 1 April 2012 – 31 March 2013 briefing
The Chairperson noted the apologies from the Minister and Deputy Minister.
An official from the Department of Social Development, gave a brief overview of the highlights and challenges the Department of Social Development (DSD) had faced in its Annual Report 2012/13. The major programmes and achievements of the DSD were briefly highlighted. In Programme 2: Comprehensive Social Security, the major achievements were that there were 2 873 197 old age grant beneficiaries registered. The total number of Child Support Grant (CSG) beneficiaries was 11 341 989. In Programme 4: Welfare Services, 35 197 older people benefited from community based care and support services. The total number of children accessing Early Childhood Development (ECD) programmes had increased by 15% to 124 870. There was an increase of children in foster care, by 31%, to 157 024. In relation to welfare services for families, the White Paper on Families was finalised and approved by Cabinet in May 2013.
A national framework for accreditation of organisations providing anti human-trafficking services was developed, together with the establishment of four shelters for victims of human trafficking.
Four provinces were capacitated to implement Anti Substance Abuse Programmes of Action. In terms of social policy and integrated service delivery 187 703 households were given sustainable food support in all of the provinces.
The Chairperson said that the Department of Social Development (DSD) had done very well and she was pleased at some of the highlights.
Ms M Boroto (Mpumalanga, ANC) congratulated the Department on its clean audit and expressed her confidence in its ability.
The Chairperson cited the report on appeals, in which a figure of only 46% was achieved, and wanted to know if the DSD was short staffed in this regard. She also asked for the reasons why some of the targets had not been achieved.
The Chairperson wanted to know the main reason for the underachievements reported.
The Chairperson noted that the White Paper on Families had been presented and wanted to know when it would be rolled out.
The Chairperson noted that the regulations on substance abuse were approved, and wanted to know when the plans would be rolled out.
The Chairperson asked why the Department had mentioned internal constraints in social security and what it was planning to overcome this problem. In relation to the audit, she said that supply chain management processes needed to be investigated.
Ms Boroto noted that there was a financial problem regarding the Early Childhood Development programmes in Mpumalanga and this differed from province to province. She felt that more standardisation was required. She said that the reports looked good on paper but she had a problem with what was happening in practice.
Mr M De Villiers (DA, Western Cape) noted that South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) was reported to have reached 61.2% of targets, but had used 99.3% of funds, and he wondered if this was due to funding being shifted from one programme to another. In the Legal Services programme, he also said that letters had been addressed in only 64% of the cases, and he wanted to know what mechanisms were in place to address this. He was not as pleased with performance as other Members, saying that he believed many issues had not been addressed.
Mr de Villiers asked if supply chain management was a problem in the 2012/2013 financial year, since it was reported that norms and standards were not addressed, and asked when and how this would be addressed.
Mr de Villiers asked why only 99.05%, not 100%, of spending had been made on the Child Support Grant.
Mr de Villiers said that support to youth-headed households was targeted at 13 350, but 35 250 were reached. He asked how this had happened without funds being budgeted. He questioned the downward trend of social workers and the reasons for this.
The Chairperson said that the Auditor General had reported that the finances were in order. She noted that many targets had been exceeded, but the financial results were that 98% of money was spent, and she asked if money had been shifted from one programme to another. Noting that there was over-achievement on distribution of food parcels, she asked how often they were delivered, and where and for how long food was being stored. Some communities had complained that food had been kept until it was going bad before it was being distributed.
The Acting Director General, Department Social Development, assured Members that the DSD would not distribute any food that had gone bad. The overheads for the food banks were very costly, and the model was rather to focus on sourcing fresh foodstuffs and to rotate it as quickly as possible to consumers. In response to questions on the targets, he said that the DSD was expected to achieve its targets but was faced with problems of an inadequate management information system, which meant that the integrity of information was sometimes compromised and that some targets may be unrealistic. The DSD had needed to shift money from one programme to another later in the year to try to resolve some of the problems and some of the goals set had been difficult to achieve.
In relation to Qwande, questioned by Ms Boroto he said that generally the Department would choose programmes that offered benefits across the board, and this one would cost R45 million.
Another DSD representative said that the majority of the appeals were on disability grants, and the DSD had established protocols. DSD set priorities every year, and linked its priorities to those budgets. DSD was, however, under-funded in relation to what it had to achieve and not all of the targets could be reached. In relation to Supply Chain Management the Department had introduced a management action plan to address the failures and a loss control committee had been established.
He noted that in regard to programme 3, the DSD had a plan to register 150 community based core programmes for older persons. The White Paper on Families had been approved and an integrated action plan was implemented which included nine provinces as well as other government departments. There would be no legislation coming out of this White Paper.
In terms of substance abuse, it was noted that the Department had finalised regulations to put the legislation into operation, in 2008, and this would prove useful to guide the way that the Act was implemented. The DSD was working with the Central Drug Authority and Department of Justice and Constitutional Development.
On the issue of victim shelters, one of the Department’s goals was to formulate an accreditation system. Victim Shelters had been established in the Western Cape, Mpumalanga and the Eastern Cape. They had to be security compliant for the victims of human trafficking.
He agreed that more social workers were needed, with the National Development Plan identifying a need for 5 500 social workers. Currently, around 1 000 social workers were produced every year.
The DSD had developed new guidelines for funding and registration for ECD. In the rural areas, the main emphasis was on safety, and the fact that children were not to be put at risk. The DSD would not issue the necessary certificate if the conditions were not met.
The Director General noted that one of the duties of the DSD was prevention of new HIV / Aids infection and addressing linked concerns, such as alcohol and substance abuse. The aim of the Department was to change the behaviour of people, and to measure the impact once people became infected, including a sense of irresponsibility. There was a need to recognise that orphaned children had to be supported. The Department used care workers who went from house to house and the target was based on the previous year’s achievement.
On the issue of food security, families and households have been provided with food. In the Western Cape fewer than 300 households had access to food parcels.
Mr de Villiers noted that all departments were under-funded, but it was up to each department to put through properly-motivated requests for funding. The National Treasury would indeed make the allocation, but he stressed that it was then up to the Department concerned to prioritise its actions and responses.
South African Social Security Agency Annual Report 2012/13 briefing
R 36 – R 65 million had been counted and that all the Departments are underfunded. He added that a department put through a proposal to the Finance Department and they allocated an amount of money of which you must prioritise.
Overview of the SASSA Annual Report 2012 / 2013
Ms Virginia Petersen, Chief Executive Officer, South African Social Security Agency, noted that SASSA was a Schedule 3A Public Entity that was established in April 2006 to transform social security. The strategic objectives of SASSA were to ensure that eligible beneficiaries received benefits due to them, that it would improve the quality of customer service delivery and achieve a fully integrated automate social assistance service.
The Social Grant trends were described. Overall, grants benefits increased by 3.27%. Old age grants growth rate had been slower, with a normal growth rate of 2% per year. The number of disability grants decreased due to increases in the threshold criteria for the means test.
There was an improvement of business procedures at all levels and an improvement in the turnaround time to process social grant applications within a target of 21 days. There was an improvement in the payment process, with a total of 18.9 million people who were successfully registered into the new system.
SASSA wanted to create a fully automated system to improve the administration of social assistance. It had adopted a Fraud Management Programme that had a zero tolerance approach towards fraud and corruption.
A major priority was to improve its organisational capacity, particularly at service delivery points.
It was noted that SASSA had achieved an unqualified financial audit, and the SASSA financial statements presented fairly the financial position of SASSA.
The major challenges facing SASSA were the payment tender court case, complaints about deductions on SASSA cards and the implementation of a fraud management strategy in which SASSA was forced to close some offices due to the corruption of its employees.
A Member asked who paid for wasteful expenditure, such as traffic fines.
It was questioned how contractors deducted money from the old age pensioners.
Mr de Villiers wanted to know whether the office in Jeffreys Bay was closed, and, if so, how it was intended that people from this area would access their grants. He asked if the systems of SASSA were fully operational in 2012 / 2013. He asked if SASSA had had risk management measures in place, to guard against, on the one hand, litigation, and on the other against fruitless and wasteful spending. Finally, he wanted to know what measures were in place to ensure that payments would not carry on when a beneficiary had died.
Mr W Faber (DA, Northern Cape) queried if there had been any rollover from the SASSA budget last year.
Another member asked if there was any recent decline of clients in the provinces.
The Director General of DSD responded that there was room to move money around between programmes in the same budget vote. Everything that had been done and reported upon in the Annual Report was in the Annual Performance Plan.
A representative of SASSA stated that it could be said that SASSA was responding to the “war on poverty”. The Department of Rural Development’s Comprehensive Rural Development Strategy, as well as the training of young people through National Rural Youth Development Corporation, was working in predominantly rural areas, and was coordinating with other departments and reporting back.
Ms Petersen answered the question on how SASSA would detect when a person had died. The “proof of life” requirement now demanded that ten finger-prints be recorded and a chip-based card was issued. This would help SASSA deal with dormant accounts. A person wanting money would have to phone for a voice-print, or go to the pay point for a biometric print, and this data would also be run across that of Department of Home Affairs, which showed 88% matching. SASSA was running a campaign to reduce the risk that payments were made to the incorrect person, which included the pay points, supply chain and security risk.
Ms Petersen stated that the micro lenders community presented a challenge and SASSA had had some micro lenders declared to be reckless lenders.
Ms Petersen noted that in regard to fines and wasteful expenditure, SASSA had a Financial Misconduct Board who determined whether payment of fines must be made by staff. This information was available per province. She noted that the Minister had appointed an advisory committee on human resources to look for solutions and determine what IT staffing requirements were for SASSA.
Ms Petersen said that in Jeffreys Bay, SASSA was looking for a suitable service point in the township or city. It had received a list of proposals for an office in the community. The paypoints were constantly being monitored to see which of the 9 000 pay points was being used the most. Should the pay points break down, then the service provider CDS would help out in terms of the service level agreement.
Mrs Petersen finally stated that the North West Province had shown the most visible increase in card numbers.
The meeting was adjourned.
- Department of Social Development Annual Performance Report (April 2012 – March 2013): Annexure to Presentation
- Department of Social Development briefing on Public Finance Management Act Outcomes 2012 -2013
- SA Social Security Agency presentation on SASSA Annual Report 2012/2013
- SASSA Annual Report Analysis
- ENTITY: SASSA Annual Report Analysis
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