Department of Social Development
The White Paper for Social Development could not be presented to cabinet in March 2020 due to cancellation of the Cabinet meeting as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The social development department confirmed this in a briefing in parliament on its Annual Performance Report for 2019/2020.
In an earlier briefing, the department pointed out that the White Paper plans to reposition the social development sector towards achieving the developmental agenda.
It will also advance the implementation of the social protection services in accordance with the National Development Plan.
In the latest briefing, the department also indicated that, although the draft regulations to support the implementation of the Social Assistance Amendment Bill were completed, they could not be published for public comment as the legislation was not finalized.
The department also added that, flowing from the experience and learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, the regulations are also being reviewed to enable the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) to modernise/digitise their systems and processes.
The bill was passed by parliament in October 2020 and sent to president Ramaphosa for assent.
The bill was tabled in parliament in April 2018.
The bill lapsed at the end of the 5th parliament but was revived by the national assembly (NA) in October 2019.
The NA passed the bill and sent it to the national council of provinces for concurrence in June 2020.
The bill seeks to amend the Social Assistance Act of 2004 so as to:
• insert new definitions;
• provide for additional payments linked to social grants;
• provide for payment of benefits to a child-headed household;
• provide for social relief of distress in the event of a disaster;
• repeal the internal reconsideration process;
• provide for an Independent Tribunal to consider appeals against decisions of the Agency;
• provide for the establishment of the Inspectorate as a government component; and
• provide for matters connected therewith.
In terms of the appeals process, the bill proposes that appeals regarding grant applications can be lodged immediately upon receiving a decision from SASSA with the Independent Tribunal within a period of 90 days.
The proposed legislation also proposes that a primary care giver of a child or a child who heads a child-headed household are eligible for a child support grant.
The bill also seeks to empower the social development minister, in agreement with the finance minister, to prescribe an additional payment linked to a social grant.
The portfolio committee on social development, during deliberations, amended clause 7 of the bill with the insertion of “after consultation with parliament”.
The select committee on health and social services adopted the bill without amendments.
Other developments highlighted by the department include that the Annual Progress Report on Implementation of the White Paper on Rights of Persons with Disability was not completed due to poor quality of inputs to the report and misalignment between information reported, matrix targets and timelines; the Policy on Services to Persons with Disabilities and their families was not submitted for approval for public comment due to pending approval by EXCO and presentation of the policy at the Social Cluster and the Draft Non-Profit Organisations (NPO) Amendment Bill could not be submitted to cabinet due to delays in issuing and approval of the Performance Monitoring and Evaluation department’s SEIAS Certification.
The Draft NPO Bill is designed to improve the policy and regulatory environment in which NPOs operate.
The department also emphasised that social grants proved to be the “most effective mechanism available to government to cushion millions of the most vulnerable individuals and households from the dire socio-economic impact of COVID-19”.
The department stressed that the approval and ultimate implementation of both the DSD Sector Funding Policy and the Model will contribute towards improving relations and efficiency in the funding and delivery of social services within the sector.