Transformation in Social Welfare Services & Revision of Financing Policy: briefing

Social Development

14 April 2003
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report


14 April 2003

Mr E Saloojee (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Transformation in Welfare Services presentation

The Department briefed the Committee on its financing policy in welfare services. It emerged that there was no uniform policy regarding funding of NGOs. Funding was still being done in accordance with the old system. Members felt that legislation should be revisited and a new financing policy formulated. It was decided that the Director-General should brief the Committee on its legislative program.

The Chair opened the meeting by saying that it seemed as if the relevant officials were not coming to the Committee meetings. He felt that this was unacceptable as it was happening quite often.

Mr A Theron, Chief Director: Welfare Services Transformation, apologised that the Director-General and Deputy Director General were not present but also explained that he was responsible for the topic that would be discussed.

Mr Theron conducted the powerpoint presentation. He also made additional remarks. He added that vast amounts of the funds were being allocated to social security to the neglect of social welfare.

The Chair remarked that for a long time it was shown that the budget was lopsided. Development was left to civil society to do. He felt that this needed to be changed.

Mr Theron added that developments were taking place in the Department. Three new directorates were being appointed. An organogram of the Department would also be provided for the Committee soon. He added that all social workers needed retraining. It was not possible to have a clinical approach any more; a community approach was needed. A big problem was the disparity in social workers salaries. Social workers employed by the State earned more money that those in the NGO sector. He suggested that the part of the answer might be to provide more funding to NGOs and CBOs. Large numbers of NGOs were, however, unfunded and they were also funded differently in the different provinces. There was a need for a uniform funding policy. There was also an increase in the number of problems in society which had given rise to an increase in the number of NGOs, CBOs and FBOs.

The way forward was to obtain additional funds to prevent the closure of many of these organisations. With the increase in funds, it would be possible to fund NGOs which are not funded already and then also bring all provinces on par by paying the same subsidies to these organisations. He recommended that the Committee note the progress made by the Department as well as note the trends of funding and the additional work which has to be done. (Please refer to the attached presentation).

The Chair said that for seven years they had been waiting for the Department to present a financing policy. This was frustrating as everything that had been presented had all been heard before. It seemed as if the Department had not made any advances.

Ms O Kasienyane (ANC) asked how the Department was helping CBOs to register.

Ms E Swanepoel: Assistant Director, Welfare Services Transformation, replied that registration was the responsibility of the NGO directorate. CBOs had to register locally, but funding was done through the national and provincial offices.

Ms Lamani (ANC) said that the norms and standards of services should be uniform. She asked whether social workers were involved in the formulation of the new curriculum. It was also her feeling that although NGOs should get more funding, CBOs needed more as well.

Ms Swanepoel replied that the standards generating body had submitted the new curriculum to SAQA at the end of 2002. She assured Members that the new curriculum addressed the needs of South Africa. There were also continuing training programs for qualified social workers conducted by the Department.

Ms J Chalmers (ANC) said that there needed to be an increase in social service funding. She asked whether the Department had any "funding crisis management plan" for NGOs and CBOs.

Mr Theron said that there was progress in the provinces in dealing with crises. In the Eastern Cape, for example, funding to NGOs and CBOs was being increased. This was, however, not sufficient. Through the Poverty Alleviation Program and the HIV/AIDS program, funding had been made available to FBOs (faith based organisations) in the area. Despite this, a backlog still exists.

Ms I Mars (IFP) felt that the Department was responding to the situation by outsourcing many of its functions. Only certain tasks should be outsourced.

Prof L Mbadi (ANC) said that it was taking years for the salary gap between social workers in the public sector and those in the NGO sector to close. Even across provinces, there was no uniformity.

Mr M Masutha (ANC) said that the Department's policies were not based in legislation. Was the Department planning to revisit each law that had financial implications?

Mr Theron said that the dilemma was that South Africa was not a welfare state. There was, however, a partnership between government and NGOs. He agreed that the legislation needed to be revisited and costed. At the moment there was no new funding arrangement.

Ms S Rajbally (MF) asked whether the Department assesses each NGO to see whether it was viable. She also wanted to know whether the Department checked to see if NGOs were receiving donor funds from elsewhere.

Ms Swanepoel was unsure whether government checked the assets of NGOs. The Chair added that all NGOs had to submit financial statements.

Mr Masutha (ANC) asked whether NGOs still had to register with registration bodies to access funds. The Chair added that there needed to be a formula to fund NGOs.

Ms Swanepoel replied that provinces were responsible for provincial matters where funding was concerned. The service plans of NGOs were evaluated when applications were processed. However, old criteria were still being used where salaries of social workers were calculated as 75% of the salary of state social workers. Programs are also examined when funds are given. It was planned that the funding process would change where funding would be done per program. The program plan would then have salaries worked into it. It was not necessary for NGOs to register as a welfare organisation before it could get funds.

Mr Masutha (ANC) asked whether the Department monitored what was happening in the provinces.

Mr Theron replied that monitoring of provinces did take place. However, a uniform policy was needed where the provinces were all brought in. He requested the assistance of the Committee to look at legislation which needed changing.

The Chair said that there were many concerns on the ground regarding funding and that this problem needed to be addressed.

Ms Tsheole (ANC) asked whether there were different amounts for the different sectors in the provinces.

Mr Theron promised that they would come back to the Committee to show which NGOs were funded and which were not.

Mr Masutha (ANC) asked whether the Department had someone who was a specialist in policy development. He felt that new policies should have been drawn up years ago.

Mr Theron said that the Minister was making new appointments soon. There was also talk about creating a policy unit. Capacity in the Department was therefore growing.

The Chair added that the Committee needed to be briefed by the Department on its legislative program. He was very concerned because very little had happened in this area. Mr Theron said that MINMEC normally initiated policy and legislation. The Director-General should respond about the legislation program.

The Chair concluded that the Director-General should therefore come and address them on the legislative program.

The meeting was adjourned.


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