Cape Town - More than a million additional citizens will come to rely on the state for income over the next three years, according to Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.
In his 2012 medium-term budget policy statement (MTBPS) tabled in parliament, he said the number of state grant beneficiaries will climb to 17.3 million by 2015/16.
Just over 16.1 million people currently receive grants.
According to the document, the child support grant will see the most significant increases.
Around 12.2 million parents will depend on state support to care for their children.
The number of pensioners and war veterans, currently about 2.8 million beneficiaries, will rise to just over 3 million over the next three years.
Over the same period, the number of South Africans dependent on a disability grant will drop slightly to 1.1 million.
According to the MTBPS, the social development department has saved R450m through a new grants administration contract.
"A portion of this will be reprioritised to improve the SA Social Security Agency's infrastructure and systems, and to employ additional social workers."
While not revealing too much, the MTBPS said the 2013/14 budget, to be tabled by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan in February next year, will make provision for "the recruitment of graduates from the social worker scholarship programme, which trains some 5 000 students".
Earlier this year, the SA Institute for Race Relations put the population to social worker ratio at 5 446 to 1, with the lowest provincial ratio in the Eastern Cape.