The KZN Department of Social Development has denied allegations that they are underfunding local NGOs and NPOs.
The KZN Department of Social Development has denied allegations that they are underfunding local NGOs and NPOs.

KZN Department of Social Development denies cutting funding to NGOs and NPOs

By Karen Singh Time of article published Sep 14, 2020

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Durban - THE KwaZulu-Natal Department of Social Development has denied claims that it has cut the subsidies of non-profit organisations (NPOs) and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that assist the government to deliver services.

Last week, the KZN Care Association and The Association for the Aged (Tafta) claimed the department’s subsidy cuts had placed their budgets and the care of residents under strain.

Belinda Naidoo, executive director of the KZN Care Association, formerly Natal Settlers Memorial Home, said their total subsidy was reduced prior to the pandemic by 20 beds, which translates to R720000 a year.

“Subsidies translate directly into food for the elderly, 24-hour nursing care for the frail, transport to and from hospitals and medical appointments, maintenance and repair to the buildings they call home,” she said.

“Any reduction in our subsidies or income, in general, threatens the sustainability of our organisation. The impact would be devastating for the vulnerable residents in our care.”

Many of their 329 residents were from low socio-economic groups and solely reliant on their monthly government grant of R1860, she said. “We have 226 elders, 65 adults with disabilities and 38 children and youth with cerebral palsy in our care.”

The true cost of being accommodated and cared for at the association averages R6500 a person, she said.

“Factoring-in subsidies we receive from the Department of Social Development, there is still a shortfall of +/- R1700 a person that has to be absorbed by us.”

Naidoo said the utility bill alone averaged between R300000 and R400000 a month. The budget was further strained as a result of the lockdown that prevented training programmes and fundraising events.

“We, as the NPO sector, have not had a subsidy increase from the department since April 2018, widening the chasm between subsidised rates and actual costs of care.”

Naidoo said other organisations in a similar situation are forced to find additional funds to bridge this gap.

Tafta chief executive Femada Shamam said the past few months had been extremely stressful. Like many NPOs in the country, they were reliant on state funding to continue social care services to elders in need.

“Recent subsidy cutbacks, coupled with unbudgeted Covid-19 expenses, have severely impacted on our financial position, resulting in an urgent need for donor support.”

Shamam said due to Covid-19, fundraising efforts and activities have been put on hold. They have lost donor support from individuals and companies, now also struggling.

“The organisation had been severely impacted by loss of rental income from elders losing family support. This, coupled with Tafta’s inability in recent months to fill vacancies in the homes, has placed the organisation under severe strain,” said Shamam.

Social Development spokesperson Mhlaba Memela said at no stage did the department indicate that it would cut or stop providing subsidy payments to NPOs and NGOs.

“The department wants to state clearly that there are no subsidy cuts to NPOs that have been effected.”

Memela said the department is only paying for services rendered.

“All funded organisations, including Tafta, were paid timeously.

“According to the service level agreement we have with NPOs, they have to submit claims and provide proof of the work done.”

“Tafta wanted an increase in subsidy payments because they operate rented flats for independent living, for which they provide catering on their own and donor funding,” he said.

In response to the department’s comments, Tafta said it received the Service Level Agreements for the 2020/2021 financial year with a reduction in the number of days for the subsidy of centres from 251 days to 150 days.

It said when it queried this, it was told the allocated budget received from National Treasury was limited and necessitated a reduction in days.

National spokesperson Lumka Oliphant said R7.9billion was allocated by Treasury for NPOs and no cuts were made.

The Mercury

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