Speech delivered by Mr Albert Fritz, Minister of Social Development at the Provincial Legislature
Cabinet Colleagues and Members of this House,
Leaders in Local Government,
Community and Religious leaders,
Representatives from our service delivery partners and other NGOs,
Colleagues and friends,
Citizens of the Western Cape.
Today, I present the final departmental budget during our term of office.
During this time, we have worked hard to improve the efficiency and reach of social development services in this province.
The steps we have taken include:
- An increase in the number of social workers employed by the department to serve the public from 388 in 2009 to 741 in 2014.
- Replacing the department’s 16 district offices with 6 regional offices and 37 local offices – ensuring a greater spread and availability of social welfare services to the citizens of the Western Cape. This process required major infrastructure roll-out and adjustments in organisational structure.
- An overhaul of our department’s human resources in order to build capacity, clarify reporting lines and strengthen accountability. This has brought with it a reduction in the number of staff on contract or additional to the establishment from 247 to 57, creating a more stable organisation.
- Mr Speaker, we have made good progress with cleaning up financial misconduct and maladministration in the department to ensure money is used for its intended purpose. The number of outstanding FIU cases reduced from over 30 in 2011 to only 1 case which is currently in progress.
- In terms of financial management, the department continues to receive unqualified audits, and each year we further improve our ability to make savings through strict austerity measures. In fact we have led the way in this, considering that most of the measures contained in National Treasury’s Instruction 1 of 2013/2014 on Cost Containment had already been in place in our department for well over a year.
- In order to improve services at the residential facilities that we run, we have introduced a Facilities Strategy, which sets out the details and standards for all programmes and interventions at our Child and Youth Care Centres and our substance abuse treatment centres. An inspectorate has also been established to protect the rights of residents and ensure adherence to legislative compliance at the facilities.
We have greatly strengthened our capacity to manage funding of NGOs to render social services on behalf of the department. Our introduction of a comprehensive NGO funding policy has enabled us to ensure that funding applications and allocations are managed through a consistent and transparent process. Alongside this we have introduced new departmental systems for monitoring the use of these funds by NGOs, ensuring that the vulnerable citizens of the Western Cape get maximum benefit.
It comes as no surprise, that the Financial and Fiscal Commission in their submission for the division of revenue in 2014/2015, found that the Western Cape Department of Social Development spends a bigger portion of our budget (68%) on transfer payments to NGOs than any other province in this country. The department thereby ensures exceptional value for money, as noted by the Auditor-General.
National Development Plan (NDP)
The DA Government in this Province and therefore my Department too, has endorsed the National Development Plan. As the Provincial Government we have endorsed the noble objectives of the NDP- especially its focus on eliminating poverty and reduce inequality by 2030.
In truth Mr Speaker, in many ways much of the work done in my Department already actively implements what is proposed in the NDP. Nowhere is that more clear than in the youth Development strategy that has been endorsed by Cabinet and the implementation of which will be spearheaded by my Department.
For the first time ever the province has a comprehensive and detailed youth development strategy. Aligned to this, is my department’s youth development strategy that guides all our programmes targeting young people.
The most important outcome for the strategy is that:
"By age 25 all young people of the Province should be economically self –sufficient and independent, healthy, with positive family, personal and social relationships, and should be active in their community".
The Chrysalis Programme has grown so much that I can say without fear of contradiction that it is the best youth development programme of its kind in the country! Through the Chrysalis Academy, we have over the past 2 years placed well over 600 young people into work opportunities. I wish to thank my fellow trustees, Minister Ivan Meyer, Minister Donald Grant, Minister Dan Plato, Ms Lucille Meyer, and Ms Marlene Le Roux for their incredible commitment and contribution to this amazing academy.
Since launching the youth café in January this year, nearly 500 young people have registered at the café, in order to access the services, opportunities and support to young people.
We are currently engaging with the Department of Economic Development and Tourism (DEDAT) with a view to provide 300 job opportunities from their work and skills programme. We are hoping to finalise this agreement shortly.
In my department, we are securing 390 EPWP work opportunities and will continue to increase this number.
Youth who are registered with the youth café, will now also be able to earn Zlato – the virtual currency of the youth café – when they join a library or visit a museum in the province. I wish to thank Minister Ivan Meyer, from Cultural Affairs and Sport for agreeing to this.
We will in the coming year be aiming to roll out youth cafes to Atlantis, George and Nyanga Junction.
We recognise the extent to which substance abuse poses a challenge to communities, especially the youth. So to offer more treatment opportunities, we have increased the number of drug rehabilitation centres from 8 in 2008 (5 of them residential) to 28 in 2014 (9 of them residential).
Following the positive results with our pilot out-patient projects for school children in Eerste River and Mitchell’s Plain, we have extended the project to Steenberg and Hout Bay.
In order to address the growing problem of heroin use in the Western Cape (which was previously more dominant in Gauteng and KZN), we have moved quickly to introduce out-patient Opiate Substitution Treatment in the Western Cape.
A pilot site, which is the result of a partnership between the Department of Health, Social Development and Sultan Bahu, is now operating in Mitchell’s Plain.
Although this is an internationally recognised method of tackling heroin and other opiate addiction, it is the first of its kind in South Africa.
A further challenge lies in the rise of gang violence that is often associated with and related to the drug trade. This seriously hampers our ability to keep up with the demand for treatment. Druglords and merchants should be arrested, investigated by the SAPS, convicted and Never Paroled!
Early Childhood Development (ECD)
While we recognise the value of investing in our youth, we also recognise the need to start much earlier in life. For this reason, early childhood development (ECD) has over the past two years been prioritised.
We fund over 1000 ECD centres across the province and are currently also working with 800 unregistered facilities to help them comply with norms & standards as directed by the Children’s Act.
We have also trained nearly 1000 ECD practitioners to be able to offer approved learning programmes to the children in their care.
Over and above this, we have provided the ECD practitioners with and ECD Bible – a step by step guide on how to prepare and present lessons – as well as a hamper of educational toys. They have also been taught how to use these toys to reach the desired learning outcomes in the classroom.
Disabilities, is and remains a key priority for the Western Cape Government. My department is in fact spearheading the Premier’s focus on Children with Disabilities. We have partnered with an NGO, UHAMBO, and together we went into communities to identify especially disabled children, who are not linked to any support services, and to remedy this. We have also trained parents and caregivers, to be able to not only care for their disabled children at home, but to also stimulate their development.
We will furthermore facilitate the establishment of at least one protective workshop in Mitchell’s Plain, for intellectually challenged youth – particularly those over the age of 18.
Children and Families
We know that families play an important role in the survival, protection and development of children and adults.
Last year I launched a campaign entitled “child protection starts at home”. We shall continue to drive this message and work tirelessly to strengthen and rebuild our families. This is critical in addressing the myriad of social ills plaguing our communities.
This puts the onus on parents to take their parental responsibilities seriously, especially the role of fathers as role models to their sons and daughters.
Victim Empowerment Programme (VEP)
We strongly condemn the brutal and violent attacks on women and children, and as a society we need to stand together to fight this scourge.
My department will shortly be rolling out a new gender based one-stop centre project in partnership with the Saartjie Baartman Centre. In this way we hope to see maximum impact with our programmes, collectively drawing on resources across government departments and different spheres of government, as well as civil society.
We have also made provision for the expansion of shelters for victims of gender-based violence.
In line with the Older Persons Act, we will continue our campaign to register all residential facilities, whether state funded or private. This will enable us to monitor the treatment and care of all older persons and to protect their rights and dignity at all times.
We continue to put pressure on SASSA, to get their house in order so that our older persons can be treated with the respect, dignity and care they deserve, when it comes to accessing their social security grants. The blatant disregard for their human rights is insulting and unacceptable.
Nutrition or Food Security
Despite being accused of closing down soup kitchens and feeding sites, this Department actually provides meals at nearly 200 sites, including 140 MOD centres, where meals are provided daily. In fact, this year our budget for feeding schemes at MOD centres has nearly doubled. It should also be noted that the Western Cape Provincial government overall feeds in excess of 550 000 people on a regular basis.
Mr Speaker, the 2014/15 budget for the Western Cape Department of Social Development is set against a backdrop of the disintegration of the social fabric that holds communities together, and in the services we deliver and programmes we roll out to communities we have to bear this in mind. At the same time we are guided by our strategic objective of promoting social inclusion and reducing poverty.
So, Mr Speaker, allow me to outline the most significant funding allocations.
The department’s total budget allocation for 2014/15 amounts to R1.756 billion, an increase of R169 million from the previous financial year.
Speaker, under Programme 1, the budget for Administration is up from R184 million last year, to R222 million this year. This programme provides strategic management and support services.
Programme 2: Social Welfare Services grows from R570 million to R616 million. This programme provides integrated developmental social welfare services to older persons and persons with disabilities.
Programme 3: Children and Families grows from R528 million to R569 million. This programme provides a comprehensive child and family care and support service to communities in partnership with stakeholders and civil society organisations.
Programme 4: Restorative Services grows from R256 million to R280 million. This programme provides integrated developmental social crime prevention and anti-substance abuse services.
Speaker, our budget for Programme 5: Development and Research is allocated R68 million, up from R49 million last year.
This programme provides sustainable development programmes, which facilitates empowerment of communities based on empirical research and demographic information.
Compensation of employees increases from R511 million last year to R572 million this year. We have allocated funds for the filling of much needed vacancies in our service delivery departments.
The bulk of the funding goes toward transfer payments to NGOs. We have increased funding to NGOs from R872 million last year to R964 million this year. That is nearly R1 billion to NGOs – yet the opposition still accuses this government of funding cuts. NGOs will once again receive an inflation-related increase of 6% on their allocations.
So in summary, of the R1.7 billion total budget, more than R1.5 billion goes directly to service delivery to the poor and vulnerable.
Mr Speaker, none of these achievements would have been possible, without a few key people.
The senior management in the Department has been a pillar of strength across all chief directorates. Your vision, commitment and passion for the work we do, has inspired me over the years.
To my cabinet colleagues, the Ministry staff, my executive team, the officials in my department and our service delivery partners, it has been an honour working with all of you and I thank you for being part of this journey and contributing in various degrees to the work we do.
To all staff members in the local and regional offices, from social workers to child and youth care workers, I salute your commitment to making a difference in the lives of our people.
And lastly, to my wife and son, thank you for all your love and support.