Gauteng Social Development: underspends, underperforms and understaffed

The Gauteng Department of Social Development (DSD) has failed to meet some of its targets for the first quarter of the 2017/18 financial, leaving the province’s most vulnerable citizens exposed.

In terms of its mandate, the DSD is tasked, inter alia, “to plan, implement, co-ordinate, and monitor the delivery of developmental social welfare services; to implement and monitor programmes in accordance with national norms and standards; and to develop and render specific services”.

If the Department is not meeting critical targets then it is failing in its mandate to serve the most vulnerable people of Gauteng.

For example, the DSD received a quarterly budget allocation of R1.1 billion and spent only R911.9 million. Thus, the Department underspent its budget by R180.2 million.

The budget underspending affected programmes such as Child Care and Protection Services, where only 55% (or 731) of the targeted 1 311 children were placed in foster care. It is worth noting that all four targets under Child Care and Protection Services were not achieved in the quarter under review.

Many of the missed targets are symptoms of understaffing in the Department, which sits with a vacancy rate of 20%.

These vacancies are also in critical positions: For social workers and related professionals, there is a vacancy rate of 96.4%; of the 14 occupational therapist posts, only 1 was filled resulting in a vacancy rate of 92.8%; and there was a 100% vacancy rate for a psychologist, as the Department could not fill the 1 post needed for the quarter.

It is clear that Gauteng’s DSD does not care about the people of Gauteng.

Several of the Department’s targets were not achieved as a result of beneficiaries not being aware of services being offered and were therefore not accessing them. Some of these were around older persons, persons with disabilities, family reunification programmes and other social work services, such as households in need not receiving psychosocial services.

I will be submitting a series of questions to the Department in order to ascertain what is being done to ensure that programme targets are met so that the vulnerable people of Gauteng receive much needed services from the Department.

Under a Democratic Alliance government, Gauteng’s most vulnerable will be a priority and the DSD will fulfill its mandate.