Department of Social Development on its 1st Quarter 2015/16 performance

Social Development

18 August 2015
Chairperson: Mr N Capa (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Portfolio Committee on Social Development took a briefing from the Department of Social Development (DSD), covering programmes 1 to 4 of its first quarter 2015 financial and performance report. The Department was asked to return in the following week with an updated presentation and to brief the Committee on the remaining programmes. The presentation looked at strategic priorities, Programme purposes, contextual analysis, overall  and programme-specific performance and expenditure. The strategic priorities of the Department were set out, noting priorities in Child and Youth Care services, Social Welfare sector reform, deepening social assistance and extending the scope of Social Security. Each of the programmes' purposes were explained. It was highlighted that the social development sector was delivering services against the backdrop of an environment marked by high levels of poverty, unemployment and inequality. The social assistance programme remained as government’s single most significant poverty alleviation programme, with commitments to universalise the Old Age Grant by 2016 having been made by Ministers of both Social Development and of Finance. The Project Mikondzo was a collective sector-wide service delivery improvement initiative that was targeting the most deprived and rural poor municipalities, 23 deprived municipalities and 1300 wards in the country.

During the first quarter, April to June 2015, 58% of the planned targets were fully met, 15% were in progress but 27% were not achieved. The reasons for the deviations were explained. Any instances of over-expenditure in this period were also explained.

Members were concerned that nothing was said on human capital development, and not enough was given on the filling of vacancies. Members identified certain topics that they would like to see, at all times, being incorporated into the reports, to avoid questions having to be asked to elicit this information. They were concerned about discrepancies in the organogram and low spending in some key programmes. Members noted with approval the increase of the War Veterans Grant, but were concerned about the low spending on Programme 3: Social security policy and administration. The DSD explained that this was due to delays in establishing the Inspectorate Unit, and also explained that litigation spending was below expected targets simply because no legislation had been lodged. Members enquired about any stipends and participation of older people in sport, and wanted to hear more about the organogram, human capital, expenditure projections and other functions. It was decided that the Committee should take an updated and expanded briefing in the following week.
 

Meeting report

Department of Social Development 1st Quarter Financial and Performance Report for 2015/16 Financial Year
Mr Thokozani Magwaza, Acting Director General, Department of Social Development, noted that this presentation would provide a summary and analysis of performance on implementation of the Ministerial priorities as reflected in Annual Performance Plan (APP) for the 2015/16 financial year, of the Department of Social Development (DSD or the Department). The presentation also provided programme and overall expenditure.

Mr Thabani Buthelezi, Deputy Director General, DSD said that the presentation would focus on Strategic Priorities, Programme purposes, Contextual Analysis, Overall Performance, and Programme Performance and Expenditure.

In terms of strategic priorities the Department had identified and committed itself to addressing the following key priorities for the MTSF 2014-19:  
- Expand Child and Youth Care services (Isibindi programme)
- Social Welfare sector reform and services to deliver better results
- Deepening Social Assistance and extending the scope of social security
- Increase access to Early Childhood Development (ECD)
- Strengthening community development interventions
- Combat substance abuse and Gender-Based Violence (GBV)
- Increase household food & nutrition security (Food for All)
- The protection and promotion of the rights of older persons and people with disabilities
- Establish social protection systems to strengthen coordination, integration, planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) of services.

Mr Buthelezi outlined the programme purpose. Programme 1: Administration is to provide leadership, management and support services to the Department and the Social Development Sector. Programme 2: Social Assistance would provide income support to vulnerable groups. Programme 3: Social Security Policy and Administration was intended to provide for social policy development and the fair administration of social assistance. Programme 4: Welfare Services Policy Development and Implementation aimed to create an enabling environment for the delivery of equitable developmental welfare services, through the formulation of policies, norms and standards and best practices and the provision of support to the implementation agencies. Programme 5: Social Policy and Integrated Service Delivery aimed to support community development and promote evidence-based policy making in the Department and the Social Development sector.

Mr Buthelezi gave a contextual analysis. The Social Development sector delivered its services in an environment marked by high levels of poverty, unemployment and inequality. He outlined some recent policy developments. The social assistance programme remained government’s single most significant poverty alleviation programme. Commitments to universalise the Old Age Grant by 2016 were made by Ministers of both Social Development and Finance. To date, the Consolidated Comprehensive Social Security Reform proposals had been completed, and these would begin to give expression to the right to social security entrenched in the Constitution. Internationally, the grant had been recognised by the World Bank to be amongst the best unconditional transfers in the world. In its recent report, The State of Social Safety Nets 2014, the World Bank ranked the Consolidated Social Grant (CSG) amongst the top five programmes across the world in terms of absolute number coverage as well as percentage of the population coverage. The CSG was ranked the largest social safety net in the Continent.

Project Mikondzo was a collective sector-wide service delivery improvement initiative that was targeting the most deprived and rural poor municipalities, in 23 deprived municipalities and 1300 wards in the country. Through this project DSD had been able to:
- Identify service delivery gaps within local levels as well as gaps between policy formulation and implementation
- Increase DSD's footprint and visibility in communities
- Increased its understanding of the service delivery challenges and backlogs through direct interaction with local stakeholders, such as ward councillors, ward committees, Civil Society Organisations, women’s groups, traditional leaders, Faith based organisations and others.
- These consultations and interaction had assisted DSD to draft a citizen oriented Service Delivery Improvement Plan.

He noted that although the Department was largely responsible for policy formulation, it also rendered some of its services directly to the public – such as registration of Non-Profit Organisations (NPOs). The Department worked with other institutions within and outside government in the execution of its mandate. Critical partners included the Departments of Basic Education, Labour, Justice, Health and Rural development. Areas of collaboration included critical projects on issues affecting children, HIV & AIDS, older persons, victim empowerment, youth, social security. Given the collaborative and interdependent nature of some of the Department’s work, it could only meet some of its targets if the other institutions delivered on their commitments as well. This was a government-wide integration challenge.

Mr Buthelezi set out a summary of overall performance during the first quarter reporting period (April 2015 – June 2015). 58% of the planned targets were fully met. Only 15% of the set targets were in-progress (partially met) at the end of the reporting period. 27% of targets were not achieved. This was due to different reasons, but included cancellation of meetings, delays in response by stakeholders, DSD still awaiting information from provincial stakeholders, network connectivity challenges, and lack of capacity.

Mr Buthelezi noted that the breakdown of key achievements on Programme 1 was reflected from slide 17 of the report. In Programme 1 the high spending on the sub-programme for Ministry was related to travelling, and accommodation expenditure for both the Minister and Deputy Minister, as part of the Departmental outreach programmes in support of the core business operations. He also noted the high spending in some economic classifications, and on capital assets: The high spending relates to the refreshment of the Departmental IT equipment, due to out of warranty and support needed.

The breakdown of key achievements on Programme 2 was reflected from slide 24 of the report.

Mr Buthelezi said that in Programme 3, the low spending on sub programmes for Social Security Policy Development, of 17.05%, was mainly due to the delay in the establishment of the Inspectorate Unit. On the Appeals Adjudication, the low spending of 14.13% was mainly due to the provision of the legal fees for the litigation costs. To date, no litigation has been lodged with the Department, and therefore no expenditure had been incurred. The breakdown of key achievements on Programme 3 was reflected from slide 28 of the report.

Mr Buthelezi said that on Programme 4, the high spending on sub programmes for Service Standards of 37% spending was mainly related to the late payment in respect of the Social Work Indaba that was held during the last week of March 2015, but billed in the 2015 financial year. Invoices were only received and paid in 2015/16 financial year. The high spending on Programme Management, of 68.98%, was mainly related to the travelling costs in support of the departmental activities, which included Child Protection Week, Social Work Indaba and community outreach programmes.

Mr Buthelezi said that in relation to transfers and subsidies, the low spending mainly related to the delays with the transfer payment of the Substance Abuse Conditional Grant, due to non-compliance with the Division of Revenue Act and framework. The amendment of the allocation of HIV&AIDS organisations was to allow DSD to partner with a broad reach of key social partners in the field of HIV&AIDS prevention. There had been late receipt of the compliance documents for the Social Worker Scholarship programme. On Payments of Capital the low spending related to the procurement of office furniture and equipment scheduled in the latter part of the 2015/16 financial year.

The breakdown of key achievements on Programme 4 was reflected from slide 32 of the report.

Discussion
Ms V Mogotsi (ANC) was concerned that in this report there was nothing said about human capital within the Department.

The Chairperson said that the purpose was for the Department to provide strategic leadership in terms of filling of vacancies.

The Acting DG responded that the DSD had done a great deal to address the issue of vacancies and was positive that by the end of August most of the vacancies would be filled.

Ms Mogotsi said that in future the presenters must indicate the progress to the Committee by putting it in the main body of the report, so as to avoid asking questions that should not be asked.

Ms H Malgas (ANC) was pleased that there was an increase in the War Veterans Grant. She asked for an indication of what discrepancies there might be in the organogram, which she thought had been approved but might not be in line with the new Departmental structure.

The Chairperson was concerned that there was a low spending on Programme 3: Social security policy and administration.

Mr Buthelezi said that the low spending on social security policy and administration was mainly related to the delay in the establishment of the Inspectorate Unit. The low spending on appeals adjudication was mainly related to the provision of the legal fees for the litigation costs. To date, no litigation had been lodged with the Department, and therefore no expenditure was incurred.

Mr S Mabilo (ANC) asked what the Department’s expenditure projections were on Programme 3. He asked whether the DSD had implemented its business plan, and what were its main cost drivers of expenditure on Programme 4.

Ms B Abrahams asked whether there was a stipend that was given to the people who participated in the sport that was provided by the Department, and what was the entry age for participants.

Ms Conny Nxumalo, Deputy Director General: Welfare Services, DSD, said that there was a stipend that was given to the participants so as to encourage them. The entry age for participants was 60 years, and all participants would go through a health inspection in a mobile clinic before they partook in the games.

The Chairperson was concerned that there was a low spending in some of the key programmes and said the DSD needed to address this.

The Chairperson said that it was of concern that the presentation did not include some of the issues raised by Members of the Committee - issues such as the organogram of the department, human capital, expenditure projections, and others. These were very important and the Committee urged the DSD to include these in the presentation next time, to give a good indication of how the Department had performed.

The Chairperson said that the Department should return, in the following week, with a revised presentation which would include all the issues that were raised by Members of the Committee, and respond to some of the questions that were not responded to today. In that meeting, the Committee would also take a briefing on the progress of Programme 5.

The meeting was adjourned. 

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