15 April 2011
South Africa is to spend over R104-billion on social grants to assist the most vulnerable in the country in 2011/12, with the number of beneficiaries projected to grow by a million to over 16-million people.
In 2010/11, the Department of Social Development spent R97-billion in assisting 15.3-million beneficiaries, including children, people with disabilities and the elderly.
Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini, speaking ahead of her Budget Vote in Parliament in Cape Town on Thursday, said provision of social grants to the most vulnerable was one of the government’s biggest poverty alleviation programmes.
From January this year, the eligibility age for the child support grant was increased to 17 years.
“The total number of children covered is 10.3-million, disability grants 1.2-million people, and pensioners 2.7-million,” Dlamini said.
In expanding the social grant coverage, the minister said they were raising the old age grant from R33 000 to R44 000 per year. “This is the most significant raising of the means test since 1994 and is a precursor to the universalisation of the old age pension.”
On a separate matter, Dlamini said that her department would move swiftly to introduce a retirement fund, with the aim of providing a decent basic income for people who reached retirement, or were disabled, and for survivors when a breadwinner passed away.
At present, about one-third of South Africans have no provision for retirement and rely almost entirely on social assistance programmes.
Dlamini challenged the view that her department should be “creating jobs” instead of “creating dependency” through grants.
“I am calling on people to acknowledge the absurdity of the claim, because grants go to children, older persons and people with disabilities, who are not employable,” she said.