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
About 1.2m people with disabilities and 2.7m pensioners
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
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
"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
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.