Charities in KZN face bleak future

2015-09-09 09:00

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Durban - Various charities that provide social services in the province could find their state funding stopped as provincial government attempts to have a more “equitable” spread of NPOs across the province.

The KZN-subsidised NPO sector, which will receive a massive R690.8 million in the 2015/16 financial year from the KZN Department of Social Development (DSD), will also for the second year running not receive its six percent increase in funding.

Both announcements were made at the KZN Legislature portfolio committee for social development on Tuesday.

But the increase is contentious with the MEC for Finance Belinda Scott having said earlier this year in her budget speech the six percent increase had been ring-fenced — a point the DSD disputes.

DSD HoD Nokuthula Khanyile stressed that the withholding of the increase was a result of fiscal constraints, claiming the department simply cannot afford it.

“As the department we can’t expand services.

“It is an unfortunate situation and not something to pride ourselves in … so we will need to go under rationalisation,” Khanyile told the committee.

A document circulated by Khanyile to the committee said the department had “built its service delivery capacity by employing social workers”.

It said any increase in funding to the NPOs would require the departments to “cut down on other essential expenditure … to fund the six percent tariff increase”

It added that there were services “highly concentrated in certain areas” while “absolutely nothing in other areas”.

It concluded that the “rationalisation of services … could not be seen as a cost-cutting exercise” but rather as a “mechanism to achieve the equitable distribution of services”.

It went on to add that the “gloomy fiscal picture” does not “give hope of additional resources” to finance a tariff increase and that a “framework for the rationalisation of social services” will be finalised by the end of September.

The department intimated they would seek to fund new NPOs likely to be based in rural, poorly-resourced areas.

The committee said they would write to the portfolio committee on finance to deliberate on the conflicting pronouncements on the funding increase for the NPO sector.

DA MPL Dr Rishigen Viranna said, “It is quite obvious that Scott and Thusi aren’t talking to each other despite sitting in Cabinet. This is unacceptable.”

Fiona Balgobind, manager of the Pietermaritzburg Children’s Home, said a task team representing a large proportion of the established NPOs in KZN would likely convene an “urgent” meeting to discuss the new developments.

“We still get our yearly subsidy but with no increase in two years many organisations have been using their reserves to meet their obligations in the hope that the subsidy increase would come through,” said Balgobind.

Balgobind said as an established NPO in Pietermaritzburg they were one of many that had been kept out of the loop despite attempts to communicate with the department.

“Many NPOs do the majority of their work in the rural areas [despite being based in central areas]. We don’t understand what they mean by rationalisation,” said Balgobind.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  charity

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