State extends social security net

2011-04-14 16:44

Cape Town - Another million people will get social grants this year, Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini said in her pre-budget vote speech on Thursday.

The grant was one of the department's biggest poverty alleviation programmes and currently reached 15.3 million people at a cost of R97bn a year.

In the 2011/12 financial year, the department would spend over R104bn to reach the extra million people. Beneficiaries were children, the aged and people with disabilities.

Delivering her budget vote in Parliament, she said grant expenditure accounted for 93% of her department's budget for this year.

Priorities included R244m for social work scholarships, R6.1bn for the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) management, administration and payment of social grants, over R600m to support the department's policy, implementation and oversight responsibilities, and R97bn for social grants to households.

Dlamini said the age of children who could register for the grant had risen to 17 from January 1.

"This has seen the total number of children receiving the child support grant increasing to over 10.3 million by March this year."

About 1.2m people with disabilities and 2.7m pensioners would benefit.

Whilst the child support grant had an excellent take up rate from the ages of three to 14, there was a low take up rate of children from birth to three years.

"The low take-up rate is of concern to my department because such children are most vulnerable at that stage of development. It is estimated that over one million children within this age category still do not access the child support grant."

Sassa, together with the home affairs department, would go to "every nook and cranny" to register these children, Dlamini said.

She said there were now more than 700 000 children in some 19 000 Early Childhood Development centres in the country and most of these children were receiving grants.

She said the department was experiencing delays in processing foster child grant applications and the extension of court orders authorising foster care arrangements.

These delays were caused by the shortage of social workers, limited court capacity to deal with the volumes of foster care cases and legislative problems.

She said Sassa had made considerable service delivery improvements in the administration and payments of social grants.

Amongst other things it had reduced the cost of distribution of the grants by about R500m. Irregular expenditure was reduced from R69m in 2009 to R2.6m in 2010.

But, Dlamini said Sassa still faced problems with the grant administration.

"Beneficiaries are not always treated with dignity. The processing and payments of grants, especially at pay points, is still a far cry from the ideal of a humane, dignified and citizen-focused service. It is further regrettable that as a result of a lack of modernisation and inefficiencies, the Office of the Auditor General issued a disclaimer in its audit findings in respect of Sassa's financial statements, records and other matters."

Dlamini said Sassa would, amongst other things, introduce a new payment system over five years to reduce disbursement costs.

In an effort to deal with poverty, unemployment and substance and alcohol abuse, the department would provide a scholarship to train new social workers, as well as look to recruit retired social workers to help those coming into the profession.

A national consultative workshop for retired social workers would be held this year to explore the ways and means of drawing on their expertise.

  • DeonL - 2011-04-14 16:58

    Social grants might only keep some people poor and not help eradicate poverty. If you can work you can surely earn more money than a grant?

      Raymond - 2011-04-14 19:49

      I agree with you DeonL,there is work for those that WANT to work,and unfortunately, they are few and far apart.For many,it is easier to sit at home and wait for handouts.

  • Utopian - 2011-04-14 17:23

    But how many real, living people actually literally receive these grants regularly?? If we have a working welfare system how could it still be worthwhile for hordes of people to rummage through dustbins in every city on refuse removal day, in the hope of finding a scrap of

  • p123 - 2011-04-14 17:53

    ANC using our taxes to buy votes - GREAT STUFF!!!

  • Jacques Otto - 2011-04-15 00:45

    10bn Job fund and a 104bn social grant scheme. Can the ANC not see the issue. Are they realy that thick. We have more people on social grants than actual people working. Social grants out number tax payers 3-1. The goverment states 25% unemployment. Gordon stated on the 24th of Feb South Africa has 50% unemployment. WTF. This is an egg waiting to be dropped. We have to ensure the poor are looked after but give the people tools to create rather than crumbs to mop up. I am so sick of this BS ANC which are so out of touch with governing . I Sat next to a Finance person working for goverment overseeing finances in the Parastatels. The whole planes bussines class was filled with ANC members and Gordon was sitting in 1st class. This was me returning from France over the same period as Jacob Zumas visit. Guess what we flu KLM not SAA. IF you want to create jobs to eleviate the poor fly SAA. It will also help eleviating tax payers money for funding SAA

      Marc - 2011-10-25 16:10

      Excellent and passionate views Jacques - facts supported by actual examples - the sort of stuff ANC and their supporters hate. I don't know about supporting SAA mind you, but certainly, public servants at any level should travel cattle class.

  • Sisie - 2011-04-15 09:38

    I wish there was a way that we, the taxpayer, could withhold PAYE, so that we can protest this total waste of money. This government is keeping the poor and reliant on the hand out from government. Right buying their vote.

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