Department of Social Development & SASSA: 1st Quarter 2014 Performance

Social Development

10 September 2014
Chairperson: Ms R Capa (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Social Development presented the targets and achievements of its five programmes for the first quarter of 2014/15. Implementation of the evaluation of the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) has begun. It met its target for distribution on six out of seven grants. A board for social security review was appointed and approximately 17% of appeals have been adjudicated within 90 days and the Minister has approved structural improvement plans. A universally accessible early childhood development (ECD) plan has not been developed yet, but transformation strategies in six provinces have begun. Monitoring of support and care services for the elderly has increased and 123 practitioners trained on the electronic elder abuse register were hired. Programmes about reproductive health have been put in place. It exceeded the expected number of people reached by the social and behavior change programmes as well as the psychosocial support programmes . However, the Department was unable to train as many community caregivers, community based organizations on community based intervention monitoring system (CBIMS), and home community based care as was projected. Youth participation in skills development programmes was 22 000 more than the Department’s target. DSD created 6 000 more jobs than targetted. More non-profit applications and reports were processed than targetted; therefore, more non-profits and provincial officials were also trained. In the Zero Hunger / Food for All programme, 12 253 people were reached and 121 477 people were fed. In the first quarter, only 51% of planned targets were fully achieved.

The South African Social Security Agency outlined the highlights and challenges of the first quarter; 65% of the quarterly targets were achieved. The expenditure was 2% under budget due to inability to fill all posted positions. 8 000 fewer applications were processed than targeted. Application turnaround time is 21 days, and 90% of applicants or more fall under that category. Phase 2 of the re-registration has begun facilitation and local SASSA offices are better connected. Internally, all critical posts were filled and 107 labour relations cases are being investigated. Implementation of the grant payment tender has been approved and consideration of taking responsibility for the payment of social grants in 2017 to 2019 has begun. Three internal audits in high risk areas were conducted and 242 fraud cases were reported and investigated. Memoranda of understanding delays affected the biometric clean-up and re-registration and subsequently, branding and purchase of equipment have been negatively impacted.

The Chairperson and various members thought that it was critical to question why the municipalities and non-profit organizations were not paid. The members agreed that performance and spending presentations should be further segmented according to each province; furthermore, that the shifting of allocated funds between line items by the Department should be made known. Ensuring that professionals are adequately trained was raised several times. The cause and extent of SASSA’s backlogs was also a concern. There simply was not enough time to address all of the questions which led to some tension amongst committee members. Alternative platforms for questions were offered by the Chairperson.

Meeting report

Department of Social Development (DSD) Performance Report: April -June 2014
Ms Lumka Oliphant, DSD Chief Director: Communications, said that a lot of work has been done, but that there is still more that needs to be done. The presentation outlines key priorities. Since the elections, the department has ”hit the ground running and it hopes to make large strides.”

Mr Coceko Pakade, DSD Director-General, said that the department has achieved approximately 70% of their targets for the first quarter and had faced its challenges. The Department works with and relies on other departments and the public to accomplish their mandate. The Department’s five strategic priorities are:
- to expand child and youth care services
- to increase access to early childhood development (ECD)
- to combat substance abuse and gender-based violence
- to increase household food and nutrition security
- to protect and promote the rights of older persons and people with disabilities.

Mr Edzi Ramaite, DSD Director, International Relations, presented the targets and achievements:
• Programme 1 focused on administration, specifically monitoring an evaluation. The Provincial Performance Data was assessed and feedback was provided to the provinces. Implementation of the evaluation of the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) has begun. Technical workshops, targeted learning interventions, and international meetings have been attended. The Integrated Service Delivery Model and a Service Delivery Improvement Plan have been drafted.
• Programme 2 focuses on social assistance. The Department met its target for distribution of 6 out of 7 grants. • Programme 3 targets social security and policy administration. Discussions papers on the universalisation of the child support grant and older persons grant have been developed. A board for Social Security Review was appointed and approximately 17% of appeals have been adjudicated within 90 days. The Minister approved structural improvement plans.
• Programme 4 targets welfare services. A universally accessible early childhood development plan has not been developed yet, but the foster care policy framework was revised. Transformation strategies in six provinces have begun, and all nine provinces have responded to the monitoring report for the Isibindi model. Statistics for anti-substance abuse were collected in all nine provinces and combined and will appear In the Central Drug Authority Report. Staff client-support contracts have been extended and consultations with Legal Services have been done. Multi-lateral preparation for the implementation of the Trafficking in Persons Act of 2013 is underway. Monitoring of support and care services for the elderly has increased. 123 practitioners that were trained on the electronic elder abuse register were hired. Administrative tools have been developed for disability housing facilities. Programmes about reproductive health have been put in place, and the Department exceeded the expected number of people reached by the social and behavior change programmes as well as the Psychosocial Support Programmes . However, the Department was unable to train as many community caregivers, community based organizations on the Community Based Intervention Monitoring System (CBIMS), and Home Community Based Care as was projected. Youth participation in skills development programmes was approximately 22 000 more than the Department’s target.
• Programme 5 emphases special projects and innovation. DSD created approximately 6 000 more jobs than aimed for. All five Kwanda sites receive support. More non-profit applications and reports were processed than the Department had set out to; therefore, more non-profits and provincial officials than expected were trained. In the Zero Hunger or Food for All programme, 12 253 people were reached and 121 477 people were fed. In the first quarter, only 51% of planned targets were fully achieved; challenges include meeting cancellations, stakeholder response rate, and unavailability of board members. 

The budget expenditure was also and the Department was under budget overall (see document).

South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) Performance Report: April -June 2014
Ms Virginia Petersen, Chief Executive Officer, SASSA, presented 1st quarter performance and finances as well as SASSA’s challenges and recommendations. SASSA aims to increase accessibility to all qualifying beneficiaries. The  2014 April to June, 1st quarter objectives were:
-to provide social assistance to qualifying/eligible beneficiaries
-to improve management of Social Relief of distress by ensuring qualifying beneficiaries are disadvantaged
-to improve conditions under which beneficiaries are served
-to establish a credible national payment Database through the re-registration programme
-to increase efficiency and effectiveness of the administration
-to improve in the Payment of Social Grants
-to promote good governance and accountability.

8 000 less applications were processed than had been targeted. Application turnaround time is 21 days, and 90% of applicants or more fall under that category. Phase 2 of the re-registration has begun facilitation and local SASSA offices are better connected. Internally, all critical posts were filled and 107 labour relations cases are being investigated. Implementation of the Payment Tender has been approved and consideration of taking responsibility for the payment of social grants in 2017 to 2019 has begun. Three internal audits in high risk areas were conducted and 242 fraud cases were reported and investigated.

Overall, KwaZulu Natal, Eastern Cape, Limpopo, and Gauteng received the most amount of aid. Most aid was given to the following types of grants: child support; old age pension; and discretionary. 65% of the quarterly targets were achieved. In regards to business and economics, the highest percentage was spent on capital expenditure but the most amount of money was spent on goods and service, especially handling fees. Communication was the most costly handling fee. The expenditure was 2% under budget due to inability to fill all posted positions. Travel and subsistence costs will be minimized due to National Treasury’s austerity measures. SASSA is careful of local spending in order to avoid corruption, but the local areas do have a large role. Memorandums of understanding delays affected the biometric clean-up and re-registration. Subsequently, branding and purchase of equipment have been negatively impacted. SASSA recommends that the Portfolio Committee notes and supports SASSA’s efforts and accomplishments for the 1st quarter.

Discussion
The Chairperson began by saying that she did not want to influence the members’ opinion, but that in terms of service delivery, there is improvement, even though there are still areas to grow.

Ms L van der Merwe (IFP) thanked the presenters for the report, but would like to know the specifics of the special needs housing programme report, such as the findings and the number of people involved. The status of the amendments to the Childrens Act was not included in the presentation.  She asked about the success and number of cases handled by DSD’s Gender-Based Violence Command Centre. She inquired about the vacancy rate as well as the challenges it faces and intervention plans. SASSA mentioned interventions per ward but it is unclear why the poorest areas had the fewest interventions.

Ms E Wilson (DA) noted that reports on implementation and the training plans are missing. She asked if the jobs created by the special projects in programme five, are full-time jobs or Extended Public Works Programme (EPWP) jobs. The programme five Zero-Hunger target does not specify what “change agents” are. The results for the HIV/AIDS programmes were “great”; however, the price of these results and Love Life was not mentioned. There is major concern about Love Life’s lack of response.

The Chairperson later noted that she did not like this line of questioning and asked for respect for each other. She encouraged members to realise that they are dealing with a particular period and to limit their inquiries to performance within this time-frame. Another meeting will be arranged to accommodate these topics.
 
Ms V Mogotsi (ANC) said that, as an activist and politician, it is important know details such as where the people affected by these programmes reside, including which wards.

The Chairperson asked what DSD means by the term ‘social sector’ programme and what type of facilities were these that were mentioned. The “cultural reform programmes” and their location in Kensington and Mpumalanga are also vague. Social workers have an important role. The report says that under-achievement is due to stringent criteria, but what these stringent criteria are is unspecific. The report also speaks about 472 registered adoptions, but that the number of adoption cases received by the court was under target. This is a concern as child suffering is worrisome, possibly better relations should be built with the justice system. The job creation portion does not include what type of jobs these are. It is troubling that according to the reports the number of community workers is not as high as DSD would have liked it to be.

Ms K de Kock (DA) said the struggle to get medical assessments for disability grants from SASSA to the Department when appealing an unsuccessful application is not understandable. These challenges should be addressed and solutions found. The criteria used to assess non-profit organizations (NPO) annual reports was not mentioned. Additionally, the percentage of NPOs that do and do not provide annual reports was not included.

Ms S Kopane (DA) said that DSD’s draft legislation was not indicated in the presentation, and neither the challenges it faced. She referred to the challenges Programme 4 faced. It was unclear if DSD had finalised the Children’s Amendment Draft Bill and what were the challenges? More information was needed on SASSA backlogs for its approval of applications for social grants. It would be beneficial if these could be broken down by province, and the cause of the backlogs provided. SASSA mentioned improving governance and she asked if this meant that SASSA had reduced corruption and whether SASSA members were vetted. The number of litigation cases against SASSA and their cost was also requested.

Ms Conny Nxumalo, Deputy Director-General, Welfare Services, said that the Children’s Amendment Draft Bill is going back to Cabinet before it is brought to the Portfolio Committee. The National Development Agency (NDA) has assumed the responsibility of training NPOs in governance. Provinces during the last quarter gave R8 million to NDA for NPO capacity-building as well as to SASSA. The appeals process is frustrating for everyone because the doctors must confirm if said disabilities are based on the legal framework for the disability grant. While visiting families, SASSA finds many unsuitable applicants who apply for the grant because no one at home is working. Community development is SASSA’s hope while looking for a solution because the community is SASSA’s responsibility. 1 300 wards have been targeted based on empirical evidence; it was proven that they are the poorest of the poor with few jobs available. This is what contributes to social ills. The Western Cape is a “disaster” in the 1st quarter. The municipalities distribute the money. Registration and accessibility to SASSA, home assessment, and the police are issues. Reports are drafted. Social development is a hiring and host to the  EDWP sector. “Change agents” are people that are willing to do work, chosen by communities after community facilitation. “Change agents” are volunteers, but they get preference when jobs are available because of their work. The Gender-Based Violence Command Centre works well; it received an award for best innovation in its category, last week. SASSA intends to ask for more money for the centre and this is an opportunity to realign because other departments participate in this too. Vodacom has provided geolocation in order to locate people calling in. Full-time social workers are employed, including retired social workers on standby for extra counseling. Follow-up on all the cases has been improved, and this is just a pilot study. Love Life should be here, and they are not accountable to SASSA. They have some programmes  they have introduced that they should tell you about. Regarding the absorption of trained social workers, in Limpopo there are more than 600 social workers that are not employed. Money is given to provinces for the absorption of social workers but the provinces are responsible for this.

The Chairperson asked that the questions focus on what is on the set agenda and avoid repetition.

Mr Pakade mentioned that specific questions were raised around time-frames. It would be favorable to push the amendments to reach Parliament by October. The Department is absorbing two new functions; however, the vetting process is in place and challenging. Level 1 to 12 is moving fast to improve vacancy rates and a report will be made available. Auditing performance on special needs is difficult because it is annual goal, but an executive summary can be done. The 23 facilities refer to categories for uniform prototype development.

The Chairperson requested that any reports that are not relevant to this Committee should be included in another type of report.

Mr Ramaite said that the social sector report can be submitted. The public employment programme
includes two different programmes: the expanded public works programme and community works. The EPWP includes infrastructure, social, non-state, environment and cultural services. The Department is working with the Department of Public Works, Basic Education Department, Health Department, and various others. It does not refer to those employed full-time in the public service. There are three requirements while working in the social sector: participants must be engaged in the process of service delivery; they must be trained; and they must get a stipend. The Department is utilizing community based service through NPOs. The presentation references community workers and the services include community-based delivery. The people are prospective job seekers. The distinction between looking after children and old people, this is not part-time; these people work more and this will grow, budget permitting. He spoke about the number of work opportunities over the MTEF with 1 038 000 expected to be delivered. In the 1st quarter, 16 089 work opportunities were created and the goal had been 10 000. The annual goal is 42 127 for all nine provinces. The programmes are obliged and obligated to deliver.

The Chairperson requested that in the interest of time and the briefness of the 1st quarter that focus on the agenda be maintained, although the information is important and appreciated.

Ms S Tsoleli (ANC) thanked SASSA and the Department for the presentation, but would like more detailed reports to be available in the future.

The Chairperson said that further reports are coming but the short period that this meeting focuses on is limiting.

Ms H Malgas (ANC) indicated that some questions were recycled from other meetings and she does not endorse this.

Ms B Abrahams (ANC) asked if the disability vacancies target was reached. She asked for the number of people employed in the department and about the programme on teenage pregnancy, as well as where and how disabled people apply for housing.

The Chairperson asked the Minster to discuss the ECD programme that addresses education and malnutrition. Drop-in centres and ECD should be budgeted for areas that lack infrastructure. She asked if there is still a racial-based grant that is not yet available to other groups.

Ms Tsoleli requested a special presentation on organizational structure, capital management, and issues of employment. Was the Department able to shift funds without approval, as this was unclear?

The Chairperson responded that the Department can shift funds, but that they do need Parliament’s permission. Arrangements can be made for members to meet with other Portfolio Committees if the members have specific concerns outside of the DSD agenda.

Mr S Malibo (ANC) commented that he recognizes that much has been achieved. However, what was not achieved must have a clear action plan to overcome this. The delay in the rollout of the finalisation of the ECD policy must be sped up because it is an overarching unprecedented policy that affects the entire country. He noted that there is no need to change the format or content of the presentation.

The Chairperson believes that the new ECD policy is admirable considering the recent report by the Medical Research Council and the other reports on violence directed at young South Africans. The ‘social’ approach to jobs will assist with child minding in the ECD centres. It is not cost effective to duplicate them, but rather to establish a few central hubs to spread from. It is a moving target because new babies are born every day. A realistic approach is necessary, but schools must be built. Those registering as South Africans from other states is a matter that must be taken into consideration while making the next budget. Today is to oversee what has been done and recommendations can be saved for the future. The question on the finalisation of the ECD policy does not need to be addressed today.

Ms B Abrahams asked about social relief.

Ms S Kopane requested additional information about the racial-based grant that was mentioned.

The Chairperson stated that the question was directed to the Minister. The question was directed to the Minister so that he could conduct research for the Chair. The ‘Western Cape apartheid’ aspect still exists and is close to one’s heart but it was not the only area that was affected.

Ms Mogotsi appealed to the Chairperson not to suppress members. If members are suppressed for the next five years, this will be problematic.

The Chairperson said she allocates the time so that each member is able to say something, so others do not infringe on another party’s chance to speak. The agenda specifically deals with the first quarter work from April to June. Other areas can be covered in another meeting, so that it does not interfere with this stratified mandate.

Ms Mogotsi wanted to clarify that members cannot be expected to just be quiet. It is important to engage in discussion. 

Mr Malibo asked for a point of order because the situation is being “misrepresented” and invaluable time is being “wasted”.

Ms Mogotsi insisted that expressing these grievances is not a waste of time; that there is no a point of order and that Honorable Malibo is not the chair.

Mr Malibo added that Honorable Mogotsi cannot make a ruling.

The Chairperson stated that any matters with the Chairperson can be raised with the Chairperson later. The Chairperson’s duty is to stick to the agenda so that accomplishments are made.  She invited further questions.

Ms Mogotsi thanked the chair and said that Honorable Mogotsi cannot tell other members how to act. All members are equal.

The Chairperson asked that Honorable Mogotsi refer to her as Honorable Capa.

Ms Mogotsi said she was under the impression that the committee strategic plan workshop is going to be on the 25th and 26th of this month, and she requested clarity. Continuing to provide grants for people over the age of 18 is also important.

The Chairperson noted that she had requested in the last meeting that members submit inquiries for that workshop. That was the specific time for recommendations to be put forward.

Ms Wilson stated that according to the presentation, municipalities and NPOs were not paid because biannual reports had not been evaluated yet. Therefore, it is critical to know the number of reports received and when they were received. 

The Chairperson asked for a response to Ms Wilson’s question.
           
Ms Thandi Sibanyoni, Executive Manager, Corporate Services, SASSA, stated that it is the NGO’s responsibility to submit reports. They must take responsibility to do their report. On the grant-in-aid, Africans are not applying for the grants-in-aid.  The Department is asking people to apply at the age of 75. The grants are also available for those that over 60 because some of these people are very frail. Applicants usually receive the service. Cash and vouchers are usually used only for disaster relief. Sometimes blankets and other items are necessary. Early Childhood Development has been prioritized by the National Development Plan (NDP), but nutrition centres in poor areas to avoid malnutrition are in everyone’s interest. Audits of the ECD centres are to be completed this quarter. By the next financial year the Department will start absorbing ECDs so that parents do not have to pay, except private ones. There are ECDs with government support and ones without. Social relief of distress funding is given to the provinces. For example, ECD centres provide food in the North West where they are partially registered. Money is given to the FoodBank for poverty relief programmes  because the FoodBank supplies partially supported EDC centres with food. Municipalities are in charge of infrastructure, but they have not focused their funds in these areas. The issues that the ECDs have not been focused on can be integrated into part of the drop-in centres, which works with all ages. There are pilots in three states and the Western Cape has mobile ECDs so that kids in disadvantaged areas can access this twice a week. Practitioners are trained so that women stay involved. There are partnerships in place with higher education to help support this.

The Chairperson appreciated the views expressed because it is time for the Department to take responsibility for all of the ECD centres. 

Ms van der Merwe requested the special needs housing report. It had been indicated that the amendments to the Children’s Act are not important to discuss now, but they are urgent and need finalising. The matter cannot wait for 2015 or 2016. It should be spoken about now.

The Chairperson stated that she did not say that these were not important.

Ms van der Merwe clarified that the question was not directed towards the chair.

The Chairperson was concerned about the difficulty in meeting qualifications and not reaching enough people. She asked them to address not reaching a certain number of people.

Ms K de Kock asked for clarity about why the DSD had not received all the medical certificates from SASSA within the deadline. It was agreed that NGOs must take responsibility, but how whether or not they are funded is still uncertain.

Mr Coceko Pakade, the Director General, responded that NGOs that did not comply with the regulations did not receive money, but an updated report can be provided to the Committee. A plan has been put in place so that sometimes NGOs get funding in the last quarter. There has been an attempt to engage NGOs on these financial management matters. The Department has begun to ask for the documents from the provinces by March so that approval can come earlier. On the question of what happens when targets are not achieved, this is an important issue and a report on this can be done. How the legal framework for budgets is designed, the executive has room to maneuver as emergency expenditure issues arise and adjustments can be made. If these funds are shifted via appropriation adjustments then we will report to Parliament, but the 8% cushion for moving between line items within a programme gives us money to work with. There are not reserves in the budget as there are fixed costs to absorb.

The Chairperson noted that the question arose from the concept of “dumping” unspent funds in the last quarter.

Mr Pakade stated that the work done on special needs is part of the infrastructure plan, and human resources matters can be addressed in another presentation.

The Chairperson encouraged member to submit requests to the Committee Secretary on areas that they would like to engage in further in-depth or outside of the allotted meeting time period. The issues they raise are important. There is not enough time to invite Love Life, due to the Committee’s busy schedule. She is happy to arrange further meetings, outside of the scheduled time, if it is deemed absolutely necessary. She said she welcomes openness and transparency and is honored to spend every minute with the members. She also said she  encourages freedom of expression so that members feel open and comfortable about expressing their opinions.

Ms Kopane asked how SASSA intends to respond to the unanswered questions.

The Chairperson suggested that all other questions be submitted in writing.

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