KZN criticised for inadequate spending on child welfare services

2013-10-01 00:00

CAPE TOWN — The Financial and Fiscal Commission yesterday warned government to implement national norms across all nine provinces to improve child welfare.

The commission yesterday published in Parliament its report, which reviews the financing and provision of welfare services for children over a five-year period.

The report paints a grim picture of underspending and neglect.

Bongani Khumalo, acting chairperson of the commission, criticised the social services of provincial departments for not making proper provision for child welfare services.

He said the situation was at its worst in KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape and the North West.

“The commission proposed that the amount per child for welfare services must be standardised across all provinces to help solve the problem.”

There are about 18,1 million children in South Africa, of whom most live in KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and the Eastern Cape.

Almost a million of these children are orphans.

Gauteng, KZN and Limpopo’s departments of welfare services were the main culprits that had not used all their allocated funding for child welfare in the five-year period.

A total of R1,2 billion was not spent between the 2007-08 and 2010-11 financial years.

Khumalo said in the Northern Cape R412 was spend per child, while in KZN only R81 was spent per child.

Tanya Ajam, a member of the commission, said this failure to spend welfare funds could be attributed to existing infrastructure.

She said most of the facilities for child welfare were in urban areas, where it costs more to manage such facilities than it did in provinces that had fewer facilities. She said some provinces just did not see child welfare as a priority,

For the current fiscal year, R5,7 billion has been budgeted to provide welfare services for children.

Ajam said this amount is less than half of the R12,9 billion that experts had estimated would be required to meet the aims of the Children’s Act of 2010.

Khumalo warned the government that welfare services for children needed to be better managed to avoid expensive legal costs.

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