Under-expenditure at Social Development Dept. skyrockets, while people remain desperate for services

The recently tabled annual report of the Department of Social Development (DSD) has shown that under-expenditure by the Department has nearly tripled when compared to the previous financial year.

The report states the Department underspent by R125,562 million in 2017/2018, compared to the R43 million they underspent in 2016/2017. This means that the Department’s under-expenditure has increased by 190% year-on-year.

This in a province where the demand for social development services has grown, due to high unemployment, food and household insecurity.

Along with the under-expenditure, irregular expenditure amounting to almost R180 million was also noted in the report.

Ms Ntombi Baart, the Department’s accounting officer, says the DSD has been operating within an environment of increasing resources constraints, due to a reduced fiscal base and growing demand for Developmental Social Welfare Service.

She goes on to say that the Department has applied stringent measures in financial management in the 2017/18 financial year, by ensuring that budget is biased towards service delivery performance.

It is hard to believe this statement, when the bulk of the money not spent was meant for children and family support services (R35,958 million), social welfare services (R31,075 million), and restorative services (R20,6 million).

These include the provision of services to older persons, to people with disabilities, to child care protection, Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres, crime prevention, victim empowerment and substance abuse treatment and rehabilitation.

The biggest loser within the children and family support services, was ECD centres, where R25,3 million of the budget was unspent, yet hundreds of ECD centres were left unpaid.

These are the centres that are responsible for helping lay the foundation for our young children to prepare them for school.

The DA has previously highlighted how DSD had to surrender R22,67 million back to National Treasury after failing to spend R29 million of the R56 million ECD grant allocated to it, making us the worst preforming province in relation to ECD grants in the country.

The Democratic Alliance believes that government should put the people first.

In a province where the need is so great, every cent available should be spent, and spent correctly.

A DA-led government will ensure that systems are in place that will prioritize the people of the Eastern Cape by focusing on delivering services to all people, especially the services to promote social development and improve the livelihood of the vulnerable.