Cape Town - The South African department of social development has plans to extend the social welfare grant to the age of 21 which will cost the state R1.2bn in the first year, doubling in the second year and trebling in the third.
Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini has told MPs that the child support grant has not been increased yet and the policy change still has to be approved. It would need to get the support of cabinet and be approved by Treasury before implementation.
"The department plans to extend the child support grant to the age of 21 and not 23," said Dlamini, noting a question from an Economic Freedom Fighters' MP who suggested that the age threshold should be increased to 23.
EFF MP MS Mbatha asked in a written question what the reason was for increasing the age limit of child social grant recipients to the age of 23, and how much the additional child grants would cost the state annually.
READ: Only marginal increase in grants expected
Mbatha also asked how Dlamini's department is working with other departments to ensure that employment is created for the youth of working age "instead of making them dependent on grants".
The minister said it is likely that some 750 000 children are set to benefit from extending the child support grant. Should the policy be approved, the extension of the grant to 21 would be introduced in a phased format, starting with 18- to 19-year-olds in the first year, 19- to 20-year-olds in the second year and finally 20- to 21-year-olds in the final year.
"The extension will cost about R1.2bn in the first year, R2.2bn in the second year and R3.3bn in the third year," said Dlamini.
The main reason for the planned extension is to align the child support grant with the foster child grant. While currently foster support is also terminated in the year the child turns 18, it can be extended if the child continues with training - up to the age of 21.
The similar extension of the child support grant would allow 18- to 21-year-olds to complete their studies "and enhance their chances of being economically active", said Dlamini. "Supporting young people until they are 21 enables them to have a good start in life. Grants are received by vulnerable groups," she said.
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