Cape Town - Social welfare grants now support about 15.2 million South Africans, Treasury said in its 2011 medium-term budget policy statement, tabled in the National Assembly on Tuesday.
"Social assistance and welfare services are effective redistributive and poverty-reduction measures that have expanded considerably over the past decade," the document says.
"Social welfare grants now support about 15.2 million South Africans, up from 2.5 million in 1998."
Grants have been expanded in recent years by raising the threshold for the child support grant to a child's 18th birthday, and equalising the eligibility age for the old age grant for men and women at age 60.
Government spends 10.9% of its total budget on social grants.
Treasury estimates that spending on soical protection will rise from R160bn in 2012 to R182bn in 2014.
The document says the social security system needs to become more efficient, ensuring the effective use of funds and providing better services.
It says a discussion paper on social security reform will be released in the near future.
Proposals will include steps to establish a common administrative platform, so that social security agencies can eliminate duplication and wastage.
In the period ahead, the government will take further steps to reduce fraudulent claims and renegotiate contracts for the delivery of cash grants, the document says.
Access to early childhood development services will be expanded, and home and community-based child care and protection will be given additional support.
The document says about half a million children are now receiving subsidised early childhood development services.