A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.
SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
31 May 2004
DEPARTMENTAL BUDGET: BRIEFING
This committee meeting was a continuation of the meeting held on Friday 28 May 2004. A larger volume of research was undertaken on key issues relating to families, ageing, child abuse, fertility trends, reproductive health, especially HIV/Aids and community development to support policy development
and programme monitoring and evaluation.
An assessment tool and training manual for disability and care dependency grants would be completed by November 2004. The training of social security officials on the use of the assessment tool is expected to be complete by March 2005. The Department would report on the causes of the sharp rise in the uptake of disability and care dependency grants by August 2004. There are people who are receiving the grant whereas they do not qualify for such grants.
The following grants will be managed by the Department in the 2004/05 and over the MTEF years: HIV and AIDS (National Integrated Plan for Children Infected and Affected by HIV and AIDS); Extension of the Child Support Grant and Food Emergency Relief.
The establishment of the Agency implies that the social grants function would shift from provinces to national government. At a provincial level this requires the separation of social grants from other social development or welfare functions and further consolidation of the administration. The Agency would address the question of long queues and fraud and also manage the integrity of the social assistance system.
The Agency would operate differently from the current system because competent frontline staff would be appointed. This would ensure speedy processing of applications for grants. Part of the problems that currently exist is caused by the fact that there are no competent people to deal with applications. Decision making processes would take place at the point of delivery. Application should be finalised in 48 hours 45 minutes.
Population and Development Unit
Mr J Van Zuydam noted that the aim of the Population and Development Unit is to support and facilitate collaboration to ensure the implementation of population policy, and to monitor and evaluate progress with achieving policy objectives.
Ms T Tshivhase (ANC) asked if there is any statistics on the effects of urbanisation on youth and AIDS and substance abuse.
Mr van Zuydam replied that in terms of urbanisation trends and youth a fair amount of research that was done has been incorporated in the 10-year review which was recently released by the Presidency. The report analyses urbanisation trends and identifies challenges of the youth cohorts within the population. On the issue of HIV/AIDS a series of workshops were conducted in seven provinces in partnership with the Centre for Development and Population Activities. The workshops engaged the youth on issues and priorities around the areas of the population policy and specifically to HIV/AIDS. These were followed by a national workshop. The Department's strategic plan also identifies issues facing the youth for further research and analysis. The importance of the youth lies on the fact that South Africa is undergoing rapid changes in the population structure. Until the early 1990s we had a population structure in which the largest age group was the youngest age group (1-4 years). As a result of declining fertility rates the largest age group is now the 10 to 19 years group. The importance of emphasising youth issues also lies on the fact that every year there is a million of students entering high school or leaving high school to pursue tertiary education, seek employment or becoming sexually active.
On the issue of the relationship between HIV/AIDS and substance abuse the presenter said that the Unit has not done much research on this issue. Other parts of the world have researched this issue extensively. This is one area that needs analysis.
Mr M Masutha (ANC) asked if the Unit runs parallel to Statistics South Africa. He also asked if the Unit provides support to a component of Statistics South Africa. This is essential given the fact that it has always been asked whether or not the Unit belongs to Statistics South Africa.
The presenter replied that the function of Statistics South Africa is to produce official statistics. They have limited mandate to analyse and interpret statistics. The Unit works closely with Statistics South Africa since it is a user of statistics. Where Statistics South Africa ventures into interpretative activities like analysing the causes of death in the country they would normally work with the Unit.
Mr F Makiwane (Department) added that although the Unit is located in the Department of Social Development, all government Department draw upon the information the Unit produces.
Ms T Tshivhase (ANC) asked whether the Population and Development Report was a South African report or an international one?
Mr Z Van Zuydam responded that it was the international report and that the drafting of the South African Report was still in progress.
The Chairperson commented that the decision to pull out of the Arab-Africa forum was bad given the fact that the forum deals with most problems that South Africa is faced with.
The presenter said that he would take up this issue with the Minister.
Mr Masutha asked if the Population and Development Unit has only one client. He also asked if it is just coincidental that it is located in the Department.
Mr Zuydam replied that the Unit's functions are defined with relevance to the entire government. The Unit is normally located within the Department that deals with issues closely related to the country's population challenges. In South Africa the relevant department is Social Development. The North West Province has shifted its unit to Economic Development Department. Minister Z Skweyiya has been in discussions with the previous premier of the province in a bid to have the Unit taken back to the Provincial Social Development Department.
Ms S Rajbally (MF) asked if the inflow of immigrants has any impact on the increase of population, HIV/AIDS and unemployment.
The presenter replied that impact of the inflow of immigrants is not as great as that of other population activities. Hence one cannot easily say that there is a link between migration on one hand and the increase of the population and unemployment on the other.
Mr Masutha asked if the children's Unit, for instance, could ask the Population and Development Unit to conduct research on any topic. The real issue is whether the Population and Development Unit has its own priority research areas. He also asked the presenter to clarify the process that has to be followed in requesting the Unit to conduct research.
The presenter replied that there is no formal requesting system. The Unit does not just conduct research as this cost money.
Mr V Madonsela, the Director General of the Department, presented on social security issues. The Social Assistance Bill and the South African Social Security Agency Bill were introduced in 2003 and were subsequently passed by Parliament February 2004. An assessment tool for establishing eligibility for disability grants and care dependency grants was developed. The Department completed the design of a demographic and financial model for social security grants.
An assessment tool and training manual for disability and care dependency grants would be completed by November 2004. The training of social security officials on the use of the assessment tool is expected to be complete by March 2005. The Department would report on the causes of the sharp rise in the uptake of disability and care dependency grants by August 2004. The increase might be due to more needy people gaining access to the grant system following vigorous advertising campaigns done by the Department.
Mr Masutha remarked that the question as to who qualifies for a disability grant has been there for ages. He felt that it would be better if the Department was to conduct public hearings on the disability assessment tool. Public hearings would greatly enrich the assessment process and the development of the tool. He also urged the Department to start looking at the impact of the Children's Bill on social security packages.
The Director General took note of Mr Masutha's comments. He said that one needs to be cautious about public hearings. He said that the problem is that before the matter is brought before cabinet, it is already encumbered by different views ranging from the most conservative to the most fanciful on what should and could be done without due regard to what is possible within the limits of the fiscus. The Department conducted public hearings on the Children's Bill and the Bill, when presented before Cabinet invited other considerations. People felt that Cabinet was watering down the Bill they had worked on and now owned. It would be better to conduct public hearings after one knows what the Cabinet standpoint is.
Members felt that public hearings help parliament interact with civil society. They felt that Cabinet would be better placed to make a decision after it has heard what the people have to say. Hearings are likely to enrich and not derail the process. One should be free to conduct public hearings and thereafter let Cabinet explain why they oppose the public's views.
The Director General said that it is important for the public to know that they merely make input and Cabinet makes the decision.
Ms O Kasienyane (ANC) asked for an overview of the assessment on disability issues in the Free State Province. She asked if the Department has learned anything from the assessment.
The Director General replied that he had just received the report but had not yet perused it. To date disability has been tested on the basis of the medical model. The assessment tool says that the medical model alone is not enough. One has to take into account all other social factors. Some people feel that this would open the floodgates whilst other feel it would tighten them.
Ms C Dudley (ACDP) commented there are times when applicants for grants are told that they cannot be served because the system is down. She asked the presenter to indicate as to where the system goes down. She also asked if the database is provincially divided.
The Director General replied that the database is national but there are people in the provinces that are allowed to put information on it. The system could go down anywhere in the province. It hardly goes down in the whole areas. Most of the times the problem could be with the modem in the office or the local area network. Some service providers fix the problem within a reasonable time whilst other take time to fix it.
Ms Tshivhase said that there are well know disaster prone areas. She asked if the national department has any plan to respond to such disasters that strike every year.
The Director General replied that two department s are involved in disaster management- the Department for Provincial and Local Government and the Department of Social development. The DPLG is responsible for the management of disaster in terms of the Disaster Management Act. The Department of Social Development deals with the people themselves. Both Departments should be able to plan ahead for such disaster.
Ms D Snyman (Department) presented on the department's budget. The following grants will be managed by the Department in 2004/05 and over the MTEF years: HIV and AIDS (National Integrated Plan for Children Infected and Affected by HIV and AIDS); Extension of the Child Support Grant and Food Emergency Relief.
Ms C Botha (DA) asked if government subsidised institution fall under national or provincial allocations.
Ms Snyman replied that there are 15 subsidised councils and they fall under national allocation.
The Chairperson remarked that most councils remain unchanged. He asked if the department is looking into this.
Ms Snyman acknowledged that the councils remain unchanged. She added that the department is in the process of reviewing the programmes that are dealt with by the councils.
The Chairperson lamented the fact that 10 years into the democratic dispensation the financing of NGOs policy has still not been completed. A lot of service delivery burden would be eased if there were adequate funding of civil society organizations. He felt that a date should be set by which the policy would have been completed.
The Director General shared the Chairperson's sentiments. There is a need to move quickly. A question might arise as to what it is that provincial Social Development Department would do as soon as the Agency is up and running. The reason why there is no properly worked out finance policy is that issues of welfare services were relegated to the background. However, these issues are coming to the fore. Provincial Departments are activity participating in the formulation of the policy because it would form part of a broad welfare services delivery model.
Mr L Nzimande (ANC) commented that the policy had to come in not simply to assisting in crafting a system of transferring funds to NGOs but has to capture the whole allocation of funds for services. Given the fact that some issues that have a bearing on the policy would be finalised sometime in September 2005 one wonders whether the policy would have to wait until then.
Ms J Chalmers (ANC) commented that the problem of the lack of a financing policy is apparent when one looks at the fact that a lot of institutions, child and old care centres have not received an increase since 1996. This is causing an incredible amount of suffering because those institutions are unable to deliver services to the needy. It is very important that the policy be finalised soon.
Ms Botha felt that the funding for the use of consultants should not be a normal but special allocation. The extension of the child support grants, although a conditional grant should be ongoing and should not have an end in itself like the disaster relief fund.
Ms Snyman replied that the reason why the use of consultants is included under normal allocation is that it is discretionary. The Department decides whether to contract in; outsource or co-source. As far as the child grant is concerned there is a continuous programme of child support grant in provinces. The child support extension grant is specifically for a short term project- the extension of benefits to children between 7 and 14 years in the coming years. Hence it is treated as a national project.
Mr Masutha said that one of the shortcomings of the attempts to establish a financing policy was that the document did speak clearly to the cost drivers as contained in the various legislative measures administered by the Department. One needs to say, for instance, that we have in terms of the law a prescribed programme and therefore we have an obligation to provide it before getting to the point as to who should be providing it. What needs to happen in the new financing policy is a clear identification of the full range of services and then get a sense of the financing mechanism per programme. He asked if there is a comprehensive overview of available legislation and gaps in terms of the need for more legislation including making sure that the financing instrument is also a production of legislation. This is important because this way one would be more secure in that if one goes to court there would be legislation to fall on.
The Director General said that Mr Masutha is correct and the Department is going the legislation route. The Department does not want to have a relationship with NGOs that is purely based on funding. The nature of the relationship should be defined. There should be clarity on the extent to which the Department controls the services that NGOs render. One should also know as to how they address government's priorities. These are some of the issues that the financing policy deals with.
Ms Dudley said that it appears, from speaking to NGOs, that oversees funders would not fund statutory functions. One needs to be mindful of this because more legislation would mean that most functions would not be funded.
Ms Dudley asked the presenter to give a breakdown of expenditure during the last financial year.
The presenter commented that she would give unaudited figures. On child support grant provinces spent 85%. Of the allocation whilst 95% was spent in HIV/AIDS. Provinces also spent 86% of the Food Emergency grant.
The Chairperson commented that he excepted to see the types Public Works Programmes that would be place as well as they funding that is available or would be made available for them.
The Director General replied that in the social sector that there are only two programmes- early childhood development and home-community based care. There is a conditional grant on community based care but not in childhood development programme. The Department is proposing to have such a grant to safeguard the future of the programme and in order to kick-start the public works programme in the current year.
Ms Weber (DA) asked as to why early childhood development is under the Department of Public Works.
The Director General replied that the programme continues under the Department of Social Development for children up to the age of six from which point the Department of Education takes over. The Expanded Public Works Programme is led by the Department of Public Works but also encompasses activities undertaken by other Departments. The Department of Public Works would depend on the report that the Department of Social Development as to how many work opportunities they have created. The early childhood programme is therefore not taken over by Public Works.
Ms Weber followed up and asked if this means that if there is an early childhood programme going on and is expanded in such a way it more funding one has to go the Department of Public Works for more funds.
The Director General replied in the negative. Expansion would not happen on its own but by government initiatives. The Departments would normally expand their services and in so doing create employment opportunities.
The Chairperson noted that the Social Security Agency would stand on its own and have its budget. It would be accountable only to the Minister of Social Development. He asked if this implies that funding for the core functions of Social Development would be much more substantially financed. One of the problems is that core functions of Social Development have always been under-funded.
The Director General replied that if one takes social security away from Provincial Departments then they would not survive on their own. Social security amounts to about 80 to 90 % of provincial budgets for social development. The best case scenario is that they would be tacked under the Provincial Departments of Health as directorates.
Mr Masutha commented that the transfer, through assignment, of certain core delivery areas of social development to provinces has left national Department as a policy developer. He asked if the Department wants remain as a monitoring, evaluation, policy formulation and standards setting entity or intends setting over certain programmes and implementing them with or without the assistance of provinces.
The Director General replied that Provincial Departments would remains as implementing agencies of the Department. Over and above being responsible for policy making, monitoring and evaluation the National Department would like to provide direct support to provinces to ensure that implementation is possible. It is through the implementation of policies that provinces would be able to feedback into the policy process on challenges being experienced on the ground. As time goes on the Department would consider if it is necessary to take over policy implementation.
Mr Masutha said that in terms of section100 of the Constitution the Department can intervene if service delivery fails at a provincial level. The question is whether Department has in mind any situation wherein it might have to intervene so that beneficiaries do not suffer.
Mr Masutha commented that if one looks at social services there a different services users with different needs. He asked if the Department knows as to how many beneficiaries are likely to come into the system or whether it just allocate funds.
The Director General it would be undesirable for provincial Departments of Social development to be tacked into any other Department. The welfare service delivery model that the Department is working on would ensure that success achieved in social security is also achieved in welfare services. Social security succeeded because there was a properly worked out service delivery model costed with issues like number of people who are likely to enter the system. The welfare service delivery model that has been crafted and work that has to be done on projects that still have to be done justify the continued existence of provincial Social Development Departments.
Ms S Rajbally was encouraged by the fact that child support grant would be extended to cover children under 14 years in the coming budget years. She asked if there is programme set to reach the children in far rural areas who are not yet in the system.
The Director General replied that it is questionable whether such children exist. The Department has surpassed most of the projections that the Department had with regard to children who had to be brought into the system. In its campaigns, the Department has brought on board to assess those who do not have the necessary documents. There might be some people who were not captured but the number is not as big as reported. Rural areas are targeted because this is where most poor people reside.
Ms Dudley asked the presenter to specify the date by which the Social Security Agency would be ready to operate.
The Director General replied that the Agency would be operational by April 2005. It is doubtful that it would be operating full-scale in April 2005.
Ms Botha asked if there are any foreseen staff changes either provincially or nationally.
The Director General replied in the affirmative. There would be a transfer of social security staff from all levels to the Agency.
Social Security Agency
Mr F Makiwane made a presentation on the Social Security Agency. The establishment of the Agency implies that the social grant function would shift from provinces to national Government. At a provincial level this requires the separation of social grants from other social development or welfare functions and further consolidation of the administration.
The Agency would operate differently from the current system because competent frontline staff would be appointed. This would ensure speedy processing of grants applications. Part of the problems that currently exist is caused by the fact that there are no competent people to deal with applications. Decision making processes would take place at the point of delivery. Application should be finalised in 48 hours 45 minutes.
Contracts between provinces and institutions that pay out the grants would be standardised. The Minister has already sent out a circular informing all provinces to send all contracts to the national Department for scrutinization.
The Chairperson thought that all service delivery contracts would be phased out before the Agency is established.
Mr Makiwane replied that there are contracts that run into 2006 and the Agency would only be established in 2005. All contracts would fall out once the appropriate payment model has been identified. In the meantime all contracts would be standardised across provinces.
The Chairperson wondered if the Department has visited other countries to check on various payment models that they use. He expected the Agency to have some sophisticated systems put in place so as to eliminate problems like corruption.
Mr Makiwane replied that the Department has indeed visited countries so as to learn from their experiences.
The Chairperson commented that it is accepted that the Agency would not be fully operational by April 2005. There is a need for a transition period. He asked the presenter to indicate the amount of time that would be needed for the transition period.
Mr Makiwane replied that the MinMec has agreed on three years as a reasonable transition period.
The Chairperson asked if the integration of the various systems would be done province by province or if only a few targeted provinces would be integrated at a time.
Mr Johama (Department) replied that there are various approaches that could be taken. One would be to do it province by province. Another approach is to do it in terms of functional aspects. This would involve the national Department managing and administering parts of what provinces are currently doing. If one chooses this approach then the whole budget becomes part of the national Department. Once the budget is transferred to the Agency the Agency can in turn enter into service delivery agreements with provinces. This poses some risks in that one would be placing a newly created institution with the responsibility of managing provinces.
Mr Masutha hoped that at some stages the Department would come and brief the Committee on the transition period given the legal dynamics that it brings about. He said that the reason why the child support grant is based on a conditional grant model as opposed to the equitable share model is because it was established as a national programme that was then delegated to provinces. If one looks at the clients that the Department services it is clear that the are disempowered people. If the Agency is going to be the point of entry one needs a certain level of skill and competency. The question that arises is whether the required skills and competencies exist and if not, how the Department intends to solve this.
Mr Makiwane replied that it is true that competent frontline staff is required to make the Agency successful. The Department would carefully assess anyone before such a person could be appointed as a frontline staff. If a person does not qualify for a grant such a member of the frontline staff should be able to point out other social services that an applicant qualifies for.
Ms Botha asked if the establishment of the Agency is motivated by the fact that provinces are incompetent. She observed that the establishment of the Agency involves the taking away of existing provincial structures and bringing them together under one name.
Mr Makiwane replied that part of the problem is there is poor access to the institutions in some provinces. There are currently nine different social security systems with different levels of efficiency. There is a need for uniformity across all provinces. The Agency would apply same norms and standards in all provinces.
The Chairperson said that social security benefits are constitutionally guaranteed. However, the delivery systems in provinces have been uneven. If the Department wants uniformity then there benefits must be the same in all provinces.
Ms Chalmers commented that one of the major obstacles to grants applicants is the ability to get the required documents. Nothing can be done even in the best systems of the world in the absence of the documents. She asked as to how the Department would solve this problem.
Mr Johamar replied that this is one area over which the Department is facing litigation and may be it might be force to relinquish this requirement. However, this would open up the system for abuse. The Directors General of the Departments of Home Affairs and Social Development would look at how to solve this problem. The Department of Home Affairs is also assisting with mobile units that work together with the Department of Social Development in rural areas. It is also proposed that there should be a home Affairs official in every Social Development office. Provinces have already agreed to offer accommodation for the officials.
Ms Kasienyane felt that the issue of available payment options needs further discussion given the fact most backs are pulling out of rural areas for various reasons. Post offices are also usually overcrowded.
Mr Masutha asked the presenter if there has been an audit of capacity that currently exists that can be transferred from provinces to the Agency versus the capacity that is needed but is not available. He also asked if the costs of acquiring such capacity have been investigated.
Mr Makiwane replied that there has been such an audit. The Agency would take staff all staff in provinces that are dealing with social security.
The Chairperson thanked the Department and adjourned the meeting.