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SERVICES SELECT COMMITTEE
8 MAY 2007
STRATEGIC PLAN & BUDGETS: BRIEFINGS BY DEPARTMENT AND SA SOCIAL SECURITY AGENCY
Chairperson: Ms J Masilo (ANC, North West)
Documents handed out:
Department of Social Development: Strategic Plan 2007-2010 presentation
South African Social Security Agency: Strategic Plan 2007/8- 2009/10
Audio Recording of the Meeting
The Committee was briefed by both the Department of Social Development and South African Social Security Agency on their strategic plans and budgets for 2007 to 2010. The Department set out the challenges facing the sector as poverty, unemployment, inequality and absence of essential services, which in turn led to social ills. Both skilled social workers and community development practitioners were in short supply. The core clients were the poor, vulnerable and the marginalised. The Department aimed to put an integrated system in place that would enable it to understand its clients better and to assist society both in dealing with the results of poverty and attacking the factors leading to poverty. The Department aimed to invest in social and human capital, social integration, good governance, a comprehensive social security system and socio-economic development. Key performance areas were also tabled and explained for each programme. The Medium Term Expenditure Framework priorities were set out. The outputs for each programme were tabled. Funding and non availability of resources were frustrating progress, and the financial administration was posing some challenges due to dual responsibilities between the Department and the Social Security Agency. The budget's increased allocation would be R683 million. It was growing on average at 8.3% per annum. The social development budget, excluding transfers to SASSA and National Development Agency (NDA) was growing on average at 27%. Preliminary outcomes of the 2006/07 financial year indicated that there was likely to be 99.35% spending and 99.8% transfer of social assistance grants. Members indicated that because they had received the presentation late they would prefer to defer the question and answer session to 21 May. The only questions noted thus far, to be answered on that date, related to the status of food parcels, the developments in youth work, the procedure for stipends, the inadequate facilities in Eastern Cape and the effect of Grade R tuition.
SA Social Security Agency gave an overview of the Agency, which was to provide comprehensive social security services against vulnerability and poverty within the constitutional and legislative framework. He noted that it aimed to address all challenges and was working to foster better relationships with Department of Home Affairs. Members' questions were to be answered in writing. These questions included the delays in rural payouts, the number of pay points, the facilities available at those points and the reasons for and increase in temporary disability grants. Further questions were asked on the merger of zones, the development of a better system that would eliminate delays, especially for the elderly, and the increase in litigation which showed that people were becoming better informed of their legal rights.
meeting would be held to address outstanding issues on 21 May at 14:00.
Budget and Strategic Plan 2007-10: Department of Social Development (DSD) Briefing
Ms Vuyelwa Nhlapo, Deputy Director General, DSD, noted that there were varying challenges facing the sector, but those most common were poverty, unemployment, inequality and absence of essential services which in turn led to social ills. Developmental social services were labour intensive and depended upon skilled social workers and community development practitioners, both of whom were in short supply. The core clients were the poor, vulnerable and the marginalised. The Department aimed to put an integrated system in place that would enable it to understand their clients better. Services would be offered that dealt with assisting society, and strategies would be produced to assist society in dealing with the results of poverty, as well as dealing with the factors giving rise to and maintaining poverty
The strategic points of the Department were to invest in social and human capital, social integration, good governance, a comprehensive social security system and socio-economic development. Several programmes focus on administration and co-ordination of top management and all support services, comprehensive social security and community development and strategic governance. The functional areas per programme were fully set out. Key performance areas were also tabled and explained.
The Medium Term Expenditure Framework 2007/8-2009/10 focused on three priority areas that aimed to consolidate services to children through legislation such as the Children’s Act 2005, Children’s Bill (Section 76 portion) and the Child Justice Bill. She raised concern as to why the Child Justice Bill had not been promulgated for a long time and hoped its status would change soon. Older persons would be addressed through the Older Person’s Act 2006 and cross cutting legislation such as the Domestic Violence Act and the Social Assistance Act would be focused upon. However, the DG was quick to state that for these plans to become a reality there had to be enough personnel to deal with the consolidation plans. MTEF priorities therefore also included increasing the number of social services professionals.
Ms Nhlapo then went on to describe the strategic outputs in each programme, as fully detailed in the presentation attached. Comprehensive social security would deal with the disabled, children, income support for families and youth, re-engineering of the social relief funds, social insurance and the social budget. Social welfare services covered vulnerable children, victims of crime and domestic violence, and programmes to promote functional families. Legislation needed to be developed on social services and substance abuse legislation would be tabled in parliament. Minimum service standards for those with disabilities would be set and reintegration programmes set up. Capacity needed to be developed and there must be implementation support.
The Community Development programmes aimed to address anti-poverty strategies, community development, improve the governance and institutional capacity of non government organisations (NGOs), achieve registration and compliance of NGOs and enhance institutional capacity in the sector. A framework would be developed to link DSD programmes with the sustainable livelihoods approach, and promote and support youth development. The Expanded Public Works Programme in the social sector aimed for sector coordination. Strategy and Governance would deal with governance and oversight of public entities, development, business and programme performance, monitoring and evaluation, policy development and coordination and promotion and implementation of a population policy. There were constructive debates around the values attached to social security, and redressing the historic under funding remained the greatest challenge.
Ms. Nhlapo stressed that the Department was striving to fulfill a progressive realisation of all social rights but funding and non-availability of resources frustrated progress. In addition to this the role of social workers, field workers and home caregivers was pivotal in the Department's endeavours’ to boost social services. She stated that community development aims to develop anti poverty strategies in the short term. More emphasis needed to be placed on uniformity of norms and standards and salary levels. Financial administration of the social assistance function posed some challenges due to dual responsibilities between the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) and the Department. Lack of effective management information systems hindered the ability to monitor and evaluate.
The budget over the MTEF was then tabled. The total additional allocation over the MTEF was R683 million. The budget grew on average at 8.3% per annum. The social development budget, excluding transfers to SASSA and National Development Agency (NDA) was growing on average at 27%. Additional allocations were mostly for integrated welfare services and social worker scholarships. Full tables were given breaking down the budget and giving analyses across the programmes. The preliminary outcomes of the 2006/07 financial year were tabled. These indicated that there was likely to be 99.35% spending and 99.8% of social assistance grants had been transferred. The provisional provincial department outcomes showed between 96 and 102% spending across all provinces.
Ms H Lamoela (DA, Western Cape) was unhappy with the fact that the Committee received the strategic plan documents late and as felt that insufficient justice would be done to them if they were not properly studied and scrutinised before discussion. The lack of a proper opportunity to engage would be a waste of both time and money. She proposed that discussions or comments should be held on a later date.
The Chairperson responded that during the dates suggested the Committee would be in recess and she would be unable to attend.
Ms Nhlapo (DG) responded that the Strategic Plan was tabled in March and members should have had access to the document in March.
Mr T Setona (ANC, Free State) said that this was a late stage of the meeting to be raising technicalities that should have been raised before the meeting even commenced.
Ms N Madlala-Magubane (ANC, Gauteng) also suggested that the discussion should be postponed, or rescheduled until members have had a chance to go through the documents.
The Chairperson stressed that such delays were not only frustrating but had a huge financial impact on everyone as the presenters had to fly down to Cape Town. The deliberations, questions and comments would be dealt with fully on 21 May 2007 at 14:00. However if any of the members had burning questions they were free to ask them now.
Ms Nhlapo (DG) agreed with the suggestion.
Mr T Setona (ANC, Free State), commended the Department on a robust document which dealt with major issues, but felt that the document could be confusing if read out of context. He asked about the status of food parcels and asked what ground breaking work had been done in the area of youth work since its professionalisation. Finally, he sought clarity on the issue of stipends, whether there was a certain procedure that ought to be followed or whether different provinces could use their discretion on the matter.
Ms A Qikani (UDM, Eastern Cape) stated that the Eastern Cape had no facilities and inquired as to when the situation would be improved.
The Chairperson enquired how Grade R had affected communities.
The Chairperson ruled that these questions would be answered at the meeting to be held on the 21 May 2007 at 14:00. Additional questions could also be raised then.
Strategic Plan and Budget 2007: SA Social Security Agency (SASSA) Briefing
Mr Fezile Makiwane, Chief Executive Officer, SASSA, gave an overview of the Agency and outlined the mission of the organisation, which was to provide comprehensive social security services against vulnerability and poverty within the constitutional and legislative framework. He was very proud to present the theme for SASSA, which is “Paying the right social grant, to the right person, at the right time and place, NJALO!” This theme highlighted the structure's aim to address challenges that had previously bedeviled the social services sector.
Mr Makiwane indicated that the priorities of the SASSA were to improve service delivery quality and organizational capacity, payment services, grant process integrity and financial management integrity. In 2006 staff had worked on establishment and operationalisation of SASSA. The process had proceeded in line with expectations. SASSA had taken over responsibility and accountability of the administration in all provinces.
He highlighted that partnerships and relationships with the Department of Home Affairs need to be fostered, as that was where SASSA had its information base.
Ms H Lamoela stated that she was impressed with the report. However, she was worried about the one to two month delays that people in rural areas experience in getting their pay outs as opposed to those in urban areas. She enquired as to how many pay points there were through out the whole country and how many had facilities such as water, electricity and toilets as these were previously major problems in the past. In addition to this she asked why there was an increase in the number of applicants for temporary disability grants.
The Chairperson added to Ms Lamoela’s question by stating that the current merger of zones was causing havoc at pay points and asked how SASSA aimed to deal with the problem.
Mr T Setona, strongly felt that SASSA needed to develop a payment system that incorporated human dignity, as at times the elderly had to queue up for hours in harsh conditions to receive their payouts. He asked whether the foster care backlog would be dealt with. He was very impressed with the growing awareness in communities of their rights to petition and to seek litigation. In his view members should be impressed with the litigation costs of R134 850 000, which showed that people were getting to know of their democratic right to challenge certain processes.
Mr Makiwane and his delegation stated that they would provide the committee with a detailed report that would answer all their questions. In response to the questions around the conditions of pay points he stated that all pay points must be protected from the elements, must have seats, toilets and security. In most cases it was impractical to build permanent structures and thus the Department would liaise with local government to rent certain building for a few days for the exercise to be a success. In rural areas where it was problematic and at times impractical to have fixed structures there were 90 mobile offices that offered services to clients and high levels of technology such as satellite that result in quicker service delivery.
The Chair thanked SASSA for the presentation and expected to receive the written responses soon. She noted that SASSA would not be participating in the meeting on 21 May.
The meeting was adjourned.
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