No Relief in Sight for Social Welfare Services.
Non-profit organisations (NPOs) delivering social welfare services in Gauteng are extremely disappointed at the lack of any mention in the Budget speech of a desperately-needed new financial deal for their sector. On 28 August last year, mass action took place countrywide to bring to government's attention the plight of organisations battling to serve the country's most vulnerable people - including orphaned and vulnerable children and those who are abused, exploited or abandoned; people with disabilities; frail and destitute older people; those affected by crime and violence; homeless children and adults; refugees; poverty-stricken communities - and many more.
In most provinces, including Gauteng, no response was forthcoming to last year's call for realistic funding for these services. The allocation made by the National Treasury to the provincial Departments of Social Development simply does not allow for them to properly meet their responsibilities for the funding of NPOs, on whom they depend for the delivery of essential services. Repeated appeals have been made to Treasury for action to address the deteriorating situation of our sector. We had hoped for good news in the Budget speech - but nothing seems to have materialised.
There are positive features of the budget - for example, we welcome the extension of the Child Support Grant to older children, the plans to address unemployment especially among the youth, the broadening of access to ARVs, and the increased provision for basic services to poor households. The general focus of the speech on addressing poverty and extremes of inequality is also encouraging. But there seems to be a failure to recognise that effective social welfare services to vulnerable and marginalised people are indispensable for the implementation of our Bill of Rights and the development of our nation.
While we are fully aware of the difficulties facing Treasury in the current economic climate, we believe that these services should receive more, and not fewer, resources in times of recession.
Gauteng Welfare Forum