The above organisations in the Social Development and Welfare Sector acknowledge with great appreciation the emphasis on job creation in the budget speech delivered by the Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan on 23 February 2011.
Job creation from our perspective is an integral part of social development. The general view of the developmental approach in the social welfare sector is that it regards economic development as an essential element in social welfare. It is therefore important that social programmes support macro-economic policies that promote employment, raise incomes and attain other “people centred” economic development outcomes. We however have our concerns about the agencies which will be tasked to roll out the job creation programmes. The support that NGOs can provide in this regard should seriously be explored.
We appreciate that the second largest portion of the budget (R146.9 billion) is allocated to social protection. The greater part of this amount goes towards social security, grants to older persons, children support, disability, etc. It seems as if these grants have reached the affordability ceiling and that the sector should urgently look at ways for longer term solutions to address poverty.
We do agree that social security is important and provides a safety net to those who are unable to support themselves and their dependants. We however wish to express our concerns about the way in which the social development and welfare sector is portrayed in the budget speech and the review document. Although almost 90% of the total budget goes towards social security no mention is made of other important aspects of the developmental social welfare services.
It is crucial to understand that the sector is not only about the social security and sustaining communities through grants. In the Budget Review (p.99) we find the warning that, “Social security should not cultivate dependency, nor act as a disincentive to look for work.” In his speech the Minister also refers to the fish analogy that the “government must teach its people to fish; not be suppliers of fish.”
There is a danger that social development is being downgraded and reduced to social assistance and the payment of cash transfers while the empowerment and the developmental thrust of social development is lost. The important contribution of NGOs cannot be underestimated in this regard. In most provinces more than half of the budget of the Department of Social Development is allocated to NGOs through subsidies. Most of the NGOs have track records over decades showing they provide quality services to our vulnerable and poor communities. In some cases these services include the constitutional obligation (statutory services) of the Department and are being rendered at a third of the cost that the Department delivers similar services.
The Minister mentioned that over R9 billion is spent annually in administering the fragmented social security system. We applaud the endeavours of treasury and SASSA to ensure they operate cost effectively that more funds are available for the intended purposes. The NGO sector requests treasury to similarly, by way of a service delivery impact study, look into the funded partners (NGOs) of the Department of Social Development, specifically looking at issues such as the disparity in salaries, provincial allocation of subsidies, and quality of services to ensure greater value for money.
For many years the NGO sector has carried the brunt of inadequate funding hence we are looking forward to a unified approach that will ensure better quality services to our poor and vulnerable people and establish sustainable communities.
Rev Averell Rust (on behalf of)
National Coalition of Social Services (NACOSS)
National Welfare Organisations & NGOs (NAWONGO)
Western Cape Director’s Forum (WCDF)