The Western Cape Department of Social Development tabled its second adjustment budget to the Standing Committee on Social Development in a virtual meeting. The Department said the adjustment tabled had significant additions in terms of extra funds from national government. There have been arrangements to provide extra support for Early Childhood Development as well as additional funds food relief. Both amounts are just over R50 million. The Department has asked the Provincial Treasury to put some funds aside for the Department, in order to soften the blow of the very substantial budget cuts that the Department will be facing in the next financial year.
The Department is expecting a budget cut of R250 million, of which about R100 million will be removed because the Department of Public Service and Administration has frozen wage increases to public servants. This is yet to be finalised. The Department expressed concern about the large amounts of money that will need to be spent in a very short space of time.
Members wanted details of the Sanitary Dignity Project. How many sanitary towels are in storage and why have they have not been distributed? They wanted to know the breakdown of expenditure related to funding for homeless shelters, filling of critical posts, funds shifted to accommodate food relief programmes and details of current programmes being rolled out until the end of the financial year, so that can be shared with the Members’ constituents.
The budget vote was adopted but the ANC expressed a minority view to not support the budget vote.
Dr Robert Macdonald, Head of Department: Western Cape Department of Social Development, said the adjustment that is being tabled today has some fairly significant additions in terms of extra funds from national government and Treasury. There have been arrangements to provide extra support for Early Childhood Development as well as additional funds food relief. Both amounts are just over R50 million. The Department has asked the Provincial Treasury to put some funds aside for the Department, in order to soften the blow of the very substantial budget cuts that the Department will be facing in the next financial year.
He said the Department is expecting a budget cut of R250 million, of which about R100 million will be removed because the Department of Public Service and Administration has frozen wage increases to public servants. This is yet to be finalised.
Some errata were submitted to the committee as donations that were received during COVID had to be included in the documentation and this has now been rectified.
He said there is a concern about the large amounts of money that need to be spent in a short space of time.
Mr Juan Smith, Chief Financial Officer: Western Cape Department of Social Development, said the Department had to reprioritise and those shifts will be seen in the adjusted budget.
Ms N Bakubake-Vos (ANC) asked which critical posts will be affected by the cuts. She asked for details around the Sanitary Dignity Project. She wanted to know why there was a cost reflected for storage and distribution. Why did the Department not distribute to households during lockdown? Where is the storage? What is the number of sanitary towels that have been distributed and how many are left?
She asked the Department for a breakdown of expenditure related to additional funding for homeless shelters. What is the Department’s plan to increase the number of shelters, given the high number of homeless people in the province?
Ms R Windvogel (ANC) wanted to know the total amount shifted for provisions and food relief. How many households will benefit? What is the roll-out plan? What is the Department’s plan beyond food parcels?
Mr R Mackenzie (DA) wanted to know what Members can look forward to, given the change in the budget over the next three months. What programmes/project are being rolled out by the Department? He asked for this information in order to share it with members of the community.
Dr Macdonald said the Department has reprioritised critical posts so there will be no cuts to critical posts. There are a few administrative posts that will not be filled in order to contain costs but these are fairly low-level posts.
With regards to the storage of the sanitary towels, he requested a written question so that a breakdown can be provided to the Committee. The towels were not distributed as the project is meant for girl children in school. Since school has returned, the process of distribution has resumed but he did not have the exact numbers at hand as deliveries take place everyday. However, the information can be provided to the Committee.
The Department has arranged for an allocation of R5 million to increase shelter spaces. The Department has asked Provincial Treasury to provide it with an additional R20 million in order to expand bed spaces by 1 000 in the shelters for homeless adults. This would also increase the capacity in terms of social work professional staff to be able to also help with re-unification and therapeutic programmes to help the homeless adults reunify with their families and reintegration into society. The intention is to increase the number of beds from 1 000 beds currently funded, to 2 500 beds during the course of the next financial year. This includes relief for Early Childhood Development employees and PPE provisions.
Mr Smith said the Department decided not give inflationary increases to its transfers for the current financial year. The money saved by not allocating any tariffs has been reprioritised.
The Department has already a lot of funds for food relief since the first adjustment. However, R18 million has been allocated for food relief programmes, for the period from August until now.
Mr Mzwandile Hewu, Chief Director: Community and Partnership Development, Western Cape Department of Social Development, said the Department’s plan B on food parcels is to consider different interventions to see how it can support community-based kitchens. The department might give a slight cash injection so that the kitchens can procure monthly or fortnightly, to ensure people remain food-secure.
He said there is an NGO providing vouchers that allows community members to purchase food locally, thereby providing an injection into the local economy.
The Chairperson offered Members an opportunity to ask follow-up questions, but there were none. He thanked the Department and the delegation was excused from the meeting.
The Committee requested the following information from the Department: the total cost of the Sanitary Dignity Project as well as the amount of sanitary towels that have been distributed; and how many are left in the warehouse.
The Committee also requests that the Department provide it with information on projects it is currently rolling out so these can be shared with members of the community.
Consideration and adoption of Committee Report on the budget vote
Mr Mackenzie proposed supporting the Vote.
He was seconded by Ms W Philander (DA).
Ms Bakubaku-Vos expressed the minority view to not support the vote.
The Committee report was adopted.
The Chairperson thanked everyone and the meeting was adjourned
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