Social Development Budget Review and Recommendations Report

Social Development

22 October 2014
Chairperson: Ms R Capa (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee considered its Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report.

Ms Yolisa Nogenga, the Committee Content Adviser, took the Committee through the Report page by page. She touched on the mandate of the Committee and provided a description of the core functions of the Department of Social Development, the SA Social Security Agency (SASSA) and the National Development Agency (NDA). An overview of key relevant policy focus areas was also provided. A summary of the 2012/13 recommendations made by the Committee’s predecessor and the progress made in its implementation was elaborated upon. The Committee was also given an overview and assessment of the financial performance on the Department for 2013/14. An overview and assessment on service delivery was additionally presented. Relevant external research assessing the performance of the Department was also covered in the Report. The Report also contained overviews on the key developments in the SASSA and the NDA. The Report listed observations made by the Committee relating to the Department of Social Development, the SA Social Security Agency (SASSA) and the National Development Agency (NDA). It also listed Committee recommendations corresponding to observations that had been made relating to the Department, the SASSA and the NDA.

The Chairperson stated that Members should feel free to make amendments to existing recommendations or even to suggest additional Committee recommendations. A recommendation was made that the Minister should lobby the National Treasury for the increase in funding to the NDA. Another recommendation was that the Minister should see to it that there was a mechanism in place to ensure that there was compliance by NPOs with legislation. However, NPOs should be capacitated in order to comply. It was noted by Members that there was inconsistency in funding to NPOs by the Department. In some instances funding was more and in others it was less. The issue of funding for salaries fell within the ambit of the Department of Public Service and Administration and hence the Committee could not make a recommendation in this regard.

Members raised concerns over the plight of special needs children as youth centres where they were admitted into often times did not have the capacity to cater for their specific needs. A further concern raised was that the Department was losing its social workers to sister departments or to other sectors. A suggested recommendation was that the Department should provide the Committee with a holistic strategy on professional services which would include a staff retention strategy. 
An issue highlighted was that the Department should work with law enforcement agencies on the plight of older persons who were being abused or murdered. The point was made that there was a lack of current relevant statistics on homicide, rape and child abuse and hence research was needed.
The Report was adopted by the Committee as amended.
 

Meeting report

Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report (BRRR)
The Committee considered its Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report. The Chairperson placed the Report before the Committee for consideration. She suggested that the Committee Content Adviser Ms Yolisa Nogenga take the Committee through the Report page by page. The Committee agreed to the suggestion.

Ms Yogenga touched on the mandate of the Committee and provided a description of the core functions of the Department of Social Development, the SA Social Security Agency (SASSA) and the National Development Agency (NDA). An overview of key relevant policy focus areas was also provided. A summary of the 2012/13 recommendations made by the Committee’s predecessor and the progress made in its implementation was elaborated upon. The Committee was also given an overview and assessment of the financial performance on the Department for 2013/14. An overview and assessment on service delivery was additionally presented. Relevant external research assessing the performance of the Department was also covered in the Report. The Report also contained overviews on the key developments in the SASSA and the NDA.

The Committee was aware that the observations made by the Committee and recommendations that flow from them were of utmost importance.

The Chairperson stated that recommendations needed to be specific and should target certain areas. For example in Khayalitsa in the Western Cape SASSA had reduced the number of SASSA pay points. This caused congestion and delays at pay points which was unfair to beneficiaries. The Committee needed to make a recommendation in this regard.

Committee observations in relation to the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation’s (DPME) evaluation of the Department
-It raised concern about the high non-compliance of 33% of NPOs to the NPO Act requiring them to submit annual reports.    The Department responded that the NDA was given the task to conduct capacity building of emerging NPOs to assist them to comply with the Act. The Department had also conducted NPO road-shows to educate NPOs of the NPO Act. The approach of the Department was to empower NPOs rather than deregister them due to non-compliance. Despite these efforts the Department was concerned about the mobility of social workers in the NPO sector. It therefore planned to review the payment of social workers across the board in order to standardise it.
-The Committee welcomed the Department’s efforts of increasing its footprint across provinces which included implementing programmes.
- The Committee commended the Department for obtaining a clean audit opinion which reflected upon the good leadership by the Director General and the Minister.
- The Department managed to increase the number of targets it achieved from 61% in 2012/13 to 69% in 2013/14.  

The Chairperson said that NPOs who failed to comply did not receive funding. The Department was trying to build NPO capacity that was lacking.

Committee recommendations aimed at the Department of Social Development
-The Minister should ensure that the Department’s intergovernmental relations with its counterparts, in particular those that implement its cross cutting functions, was strengthened to ensure that it managed to achieve its targets.
-The Minister should ensure that there was consistent service delivery in all the provinces with particular focus on rural areas and other poor areas. In addition, the Minister should ensure that NPOs funded by the Department expand their footprint in rural areas by fast tracking the implementation of the Policy on Financial Awards by the provinces.
-The Minister should ensure that the Department fast track the roll out of Project Mikondzo in all provinces.
-The Minister should lobby the National Treasury to increase funding for food security programmes and public participation in the form of Project Mikondzo. This would ensure the reduction in its use of virements for public participation.
-The Minister should strengthen the accounting systems of financial management by the end of the current financial year (2014/15)
-The Minister should ensure that the Department strengthened its psychosocial support, especially to the people living in abject poverty.
-The Department should develop baseline funds for public participation events. 

Committee observations on the findings of the Auditor General on the SASSA
-The Committee raised a concern that the Auditor General had identified 11 areas of concern under internal controls out of a total of 14 areas. The majority of these areas were located at management and leadership level. The SASSA explained that when it was established in 2006 it inherited some staff Members from the Department of Social Development who had limited training and qualifications. These staff Members had to be trained to be able to exercise proper oversight and supervision on internal controls. Weaknesses identified in the supply chain management during the awarding of the payment tender were found to have been as a result of staff Members who had not been able to use the financial and supply chain system. The SASSA was constantly improving on issues from the time it had received a disclaimer (red audit) to a yellow audit (area of concern) report it obtained in 2013/14.
-The Committee reiterated its concerns over the illegal deductions from social grants payments. It wished to know what progress had the SASSA and the Department made in this regard. The SASSA reported that a task team had been tasked with investigating the matter and a report would be finalised before the end of 2014. The Department and the SASSA was also working with Blacksash, the National Credit Regulator (NCR) and other civil organisations to find possible interventions to address the problem. The NCR had already cancelled licences of companies whom it found to have been illegally deducting money from social grants.
- It further raised a concern over the 53% vacancy rate of the SASSA, the highest vacancy rate being at senior management and in highly skilled positions. The SASSA explained that its staff establishment had been created in accordance with the provisions of the South African Social Security Agency Act which required the SASSA to perform grant administration and payment. However the grant payment had been outsourced to external service providers. As a result some of the vacancies had remained as unfunded vacancies. The SASSA did however fill two Executive Manager posts during the 2013/14 financial year.

Committee recommendations relating to the SASSA
-The Minister should ensure that the SASSA strengthened the provision of the Social Relief of Distress. The provision of the Social Relief Distress should be provided in a consistent manner according to the circumstances and needs of the people.
-The Minister should ensure that SASSA filled critical vacant posts during the 2014/15 financial year.
-The Minister should further ensure that SASSA addressed the matters of emphasis raised by the Auditor General so that it could receive an unqualified audit report with no findings at the end of the 2014/15 financial year.

Committee observations relating to the National Development Agency (NDA)
-The Committee commended the NDA for the increased allocation to project costs and reduction in administration costs. It would enable the NDA to reach more projects that were aimed at assisting poor communities.
-The Committee also commended the NDA for exceeding the government disability target. The Committee did however point out that the NDA Annual Report did not report on the number of people with disabilities that were employed at management level.
-The Committee was satisfied with the entity initiative to mobilise R98m through its partnerships with various government and provincial departments. It indicated progress made in implementing recommendations made by the previous Committee. The previous Committee had recommended that the NDA needed to act as a strategic partner in poverty alleviation, and intensify its fund raising to complement its budget allocation which it had reported to be inadequate.

Committee recommendations relating to the National Development Agency
-The Minister should ensure that the NDA strengthened and expanded its branding and awareness campaigns so that it could reach all communities especially rural communities.
-The Minister should ensure that the NDA further expanded on its role to build capacity of NPOs. The submission by the Shukumisa organisation had raised concerns over the lack of funding and support of the NPO sector by the Department.

Discussion
The Chairperson said that Members could reflect upon what had been presented by the Content Adviser and was welcome to make further recommendations and comment or amend existing recommendations.

Ms L van Der Merwe (IFP) stated that the National Development Agency (NDA) had impressed Members at a workshop that had been held. There were talks about National Treasury wishing to reduce the NDA’s funding.  She suggested that the Committee make a recommendation for the Minister to lobby National Treasury to increase the funding of the NDA.

The Chairperson noted that the NDA could assist Non Profit Organisations (NPOs) which lacked capacity.

Ms B Abrahams (ANC) suggested grammatical and spelling changes to the Report.

 Ms K De Kock (DA) made a suggestion that an addition be made to bullet two of the Committee’s recommendations on the Department of Social Development contained on page 33 of the Report to the effect that the Minister should increase the compliance of NPOs as only 33% of them were complying.
She also suggested a new recommendation be included that the remuneration of social workers’ salaries be aligned across the board.

Ms S Kopane (DA) said that there was inconsistency in the Department funding of NPOs. In some instances funding was more and in others it was less.

Mr S Mabilo (ANC) made reference to the addition which Ms De Kock had made to the Committee Recommendation in bullet two on page 33 and said that the Committee should not place too great a responsibility on the Department. It was the responsibility of receiver NPOs to comply. The onus should be placed on relevant organisations. He felt that what was suggested did not fall within the core mandate of the Department.

The Chairperson suggested that perhaps the recommendation could state that the Minister should monitor compliance. Someone had to ensure that there was compliance.

Ms S Tsoleli (ANC) responded that what the Minister should do was to put a mechanism in place to ensure that NPOs were accountable. NPOs who did not comply did not get funding. In the end service delivery was adversely affected.

Ms van Der Merwe agreed that the emphasis should be on a mechanism. Additionally that increases in NDA funding was for training.

Mr Mabilo said that the Committee was being too soft on NPOs. It was the responsibility of NPOs to have audited statements. If there was to be a mechanism for accountability the obligation should not be on the Department but rather on the NPOs.

The Chairperson said that the point was that NPOs should have the required capacity in order to account. The Department should ensure that the NPOs had the capacity to account.

Ms Tsoleli reminded Members that the Committee could only give instructions to the Department as it was the Department over which the Committee did oversight.

Ms S Mogotsi (ANC) was concerned about the plight of special needs children. She pointed out that at the Walter Sisulu Youth Care Centre there were children who were being abused by staff. She felt that the Committee should recommend that the Walter Sisulu Youth Care Centre should not admit children with special needs as they were unable to care for them. It should be checked where those children could be admitted to.

The Chairperson said that a distinction should be made between centres for children in conflict with law and centres for children with disabilities. The latter catered for children with special needs. She suggested that the Committee visit one or two centres including the Walter Sisulu Youth Care Centre.  The visits would be considered as fact finding missions. She was further concerned about the fact that the Soweto Old Age Home was not registered with the Department of Health. She noted that Department could not deal with the payment of social workers as it was an issue which Setas could assist with. She emphasised that there was a need to professionalise NPOs. On the issue of Setas the Department had to ensure that there were intergovernmental relations.

Ms H Malgas (ANC) pointed out that the Department was in the process of releasing a policy on disability as well as legislation. It was therefore for the Committee to make inputs on it. On the issue of salaries of social workers it fell within the ambit of the Department of Public Service and Administration. It was not an issue that the Committee could deal with.

Ms Tsoleli noted that the Department was losing social workers to other sectors and its sister departments. The Committee could make a recommendation that the Department should have staff retention strategies in place. She stressed that the Committee could not per se deal with salary issues.

The Chairperson felt that retaining strategies was an important issue. She suggested that the Committee recommend that the Department provide the Committee with a wholistic strategy on professional services. It need not mention the issue of salaries.

Ms Nogenga stated that the Minister was to do a review of the payment of social services.

Ms Kopane pointed out that the Department funded NPOs according to programme and not on the amount of social workers that there were. The reason why social workers were being lost was because there was no career path for them in social development. She said that bursary students who pursue studies in social work often drop out in their second year. Persons who study the sciences often received more benefits.

The Chairperson noted that there was a social worker indaba to be held in November 2014. She noted that the Committee would make its own submission at the indaba.

Ms Malgas stressed that the Committee needed to discuss the demand and supply of social workers. It was important when looking towards the next five or ten years. The issue was also whether bursaries had conditions attached to them.

The Chairperson said that Members had made recommendations that needed to be incorporated into the Report. Amendments had also been made on existing recommendations as contained in the Report. Changes and new additions would be sent to Members for perusal.

Ms Lindiwe Ntsabo, the Committee Secretary was concerned about timeframes as the Report had to be finalised by the 24 October 2014.

The Chairperson said that Members had to be sent the final list of Committee Recommendations.

Ms Nogenga said that she had captured the additional recommendations made and the amendments to existing ones. She needed guidance on the process to be followed. 

The Chairperson said that there was no need for delays in adopting the Report. The Committee could adopt the Report as amended.

The Committee adopted the Report as amended.

Mr Mabilo said that the Department needed to work with law enforcement agencies on the plight of older persons who were being abused or murdered.

Ms De Kock emphasised that there was a lack of current relevant statistics on homicide, rape and child abuse. Perhaps research could be undertaken.

The meeting was adjourned.
 

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