NGO salaries fall behind

2009-08-06 00:00

WELFARE NGOs say the KZN Social Welfare budget is creating a widening gap between better-paid state social workers and those employed by non-profit organisations.

They were reacting to MEC Meshack Radebe’s announcement in his budget speech yesterday that a five percent subsidy, backdated to April, will be paid to NGOs.

The NGOs say this is not acceptable because at the same time the department is instituting the occupational- specific dispensation (OSD) for state-employed social workers. This means the gap keeps widening as five percent nowhere near covers increased service costs within the NGOs.

Shelagh Hurford, chairwoman of the Network of Welfare Organisation Directors, said the entry level for social workers in NGOs is about R8 270, while social workers employed by the state get about 17% more than this plus their OSDs. NGOs with only a five percent increase in their subsidies cannot compete.

Hurford said NGOs already find it difficult to attract staff. In addition no specific recognition is given in subsidy tariffs for categories of staff like development officers, mobility instructors and substance abuse information officers

Given the low level of subsidies over the years, and in some years no subsidy increase at all, some organisations have had to cut back on the services they offer to the most vulnerable communities, she added.

Hurford said the main areas of focus of NGOs in the welfare field are child abuse and abandonment, family disintegration, crime, alcohol and drug abuse, mental health, the disabled, the aged and children orphaned as a result of HIV and Aids.

If they were not around, these tasks would have to be undertaken by the Social Development Department.

The NGOs raise their own funds, which are augmented by the government subsidy. “Given the present inadequate subsidisation, NGOs have to deviate from their core function to aggressively raise funds in order to survive,” Hurford said.

Radebe said in his budget speech that KZN is the first province to roll out the OSD in the social welfare sector. He added that during this financial year his department will focus on monitoring and evaluation to ensure that all non-profit organisations that receive subsidies from the department comply with the Public Finance Management Act.

The IFP has questioned Radebe over the non-payment of subsidies to crèches, leaving them to run without money to feed their children and pay staff.

The MEC said some crèches are not being paid because they have failed to provide the department with financial records.

IFP MPL Roman Liptak said there are isolated examples of crèches that have been receiving subsidies, despite the fact that they they do not have a signed service level agreement for 2009/10, suggesting that the system is totally chaotic.






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