NPOs say expected Budget cuts will hit the most vulnerable hardest

Minister of Finance, Mr Enoch Godongwana will deliver his Budget speech on Wednesday that could see a reduction of billions of rand in government spending. Picture: GCIS

Minister of Finance, Mr Enoch Godongwana will deliver his Budget speech on Wednesday that could see a reduction of billions of rand in government spending. Picture: GCIS

Published Feb 20, 2024


Social justice and welfare non-profit organisations (NPOs) which receive funding from the government say expected budget cuts will have a detrimental impact on them and the people they serve.

Minister of Finance Enoch Godongwana will deliver a Budget speech on Wednesday that could see a reduction of billions of rand in government spending.

Childline KwaZulu-Natal’s acting director Adeshini Naicker said the organisation was desperately seeking alternative funding streams, including donations from corporates and individuals.

Naicker said that the late subsidy payments from the government had not helped either and had left staff disgruntled due to salaries being paid late.

She said Childline KZN has been sent a notice that its funding will be cut in the new financial year.

“We have been forced to relook at our current strategic plan. Sadly, we had to retrench staff while existing staff are now working beyond their job descriptions. Our operations have to be streamlined to reduce overhead expenses, all this while trying to maintain the highest level of services provided to the children of KZN,” said Naicker.

Naicker added that the organisation was now in the process of leveraging volunteer support to fill gaps in services.

Ray Naguran, general manager of the Aryan Benevolent Home (ABH) in Chatsworth, which has been in operation for 102 years, said budget cuts had resulted in the home, which looks after 400 elderly and 102 children, becoming more dependent on donor contributions.

He noted that this was also an environment that is strained with donor fatigue.

“Further budget cuts will only add to the strain the ABH is under. The ABH is exploring avenues to reach a larger donor target base combined with an increase in fund-raising initiatives to help with the costs that come with providing care, comfort and shelter to those in need,” said Naguran.

Dr Carolyn Hancock, chairperson of Angels Care Centre in Howick, which deals with the basic needs of children, said: “The unanticipated budget cuts to the non-profit sector, which play a pivotal role in partnering with state agencies to ensure the emotional and physical healing of victims of gender-based violence, is extremely distressing to all concerned.”

Femada Shamam, chairperson of the KZN NPO Network, said the nonprofit sector operates in a challenging financial landscape.

She said NPOs were driven by a commitment to social justice in various realms, including but not limited to child and youth care, support for older persons, individuals with disabilities, and addressing gender-based violence.

According to Shamam, the sector faces exceptional challenges due to a diminishing donor pool and a challenging economic climate.

“Some international funders have shifted their funding processes to channel funds through the government rather than directly supporting NPOs. In this context, government subsidies for services provided by NPOs to the most vulnerable are crucial,” she said. She explained that some NPOs were on the brink, facing the potential consequences of reduced funding, which may lead to a cutback in services or a decrease in operations.

“Over the past year, delayed payments from the Department of Social Development have impacted beneficiaries, staff and the sector at large.

Instances where organisations couldn’t pay staff in December resulted in families having no income during the festive period,” said Shamam.

With more budget cuts expected to be announced during the Budget Speech, Shamam questioned how the network’s organisations would be able to handle further budget reductions.

“They won’t. Anticipating a profound impact on the most vulnerable in our society, additional budget cuts will exacerbate existing challenges faced by communities struggling with tough economic conditions.

“Many vulnerable individuals already struggle to access essential services like health, food and water.

Without the support provided by NPOs, this situation will worsen, creating a snowball effect that further marginalises already disadvantaged communities,” said Shamam.

The Department of Social Development has already issued letters to NPOs, signalling impending budget cuts and prompting organisations to scramble for solutions, she said.

“We must do better, and decision-makers need to recognise that their choices have life-and-death consequences,” she said.

The Mercury