Committee slams UIF for taking over a month to answer 123 complaints
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Cape Town - The Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) has been slammed for being too slow to deal with 123 complaints submitted a month ago, after it emerged that only 60.9% of the complaints sent by the legislature’s standing committee on finance, economic opportunities and tourism had been resolved.
Committee chairperson Deidre Baartman (DA) said: “This means that almost 40% of applicants are still left without support whilst employment opportunities remain constrained under lockdown restrictions.
“It appears that UIF is building this aircraft in the air 18 months after lockdown regulations were first introduced. While it has been a massive feat to distribute more than R10 billion to the people of the Western Cape, too often enquiries still fall through the cracks.”
Acting UIF commissioner Mzie Yawa has admitted to the provincial legislature that his department was unprepared for the number of Covid-19 Temporary Employer-Employee Relief Scheme (TERS) applications received and that they could have handled the response to complaints from the public better and faster than they did.
“I agree that a month between the time we received the complaints from the committee and now, needs to be explained as to what the hold-up was.
“However, without also making excuses, I can say that the UIF management and staff were never geared for the pandemic and this impacted on the speed with which we did things.
“I am not saying it is excusable in all situations, we could have done better than we did, but the there must be context,” said Yawa.
UIF provincial support director Allan Regavallo said the department of labour signed a contract with a call centre three months ago and hopes this will iron out any kinks in the TERS case management, ultimately speeding things up for people with complaints.
He said that the move to a non-contact environment during the pandemic may have had an impact on complainants filling out the wrong forms which in turn slowed the processing of complaints
“Prior to the lockdown people came into our labour centres and we quality-checked the information on any form given to us before moving to the next stage. In the new environment, these issues are surfacing and so we are seeing how we can improve communication to see fewer problems of this kind,” said Regavallo.
Committee members Nomi Nkondlo (ANC) and Andricus van der Westhuizen (DA) wanted to know why similar cases experienced different turnaround times and whether there is a way to track cases that get stuck in the system.