6 July 2009
Over 13-million South Africans, 9-million of whom are children, are currently receiving social assistance benefits, says Social Development Minister Edna Molewa, adding that grants remain the most effective form of poverty alleviation.
Speaking in Parliament in Cape Town last week, Molewa said South Africa’s old age and disability grants were recently increased from R960 to R1 010, child support grants from R230 to R240, foster care grants from R650 to R680, and care dependency grants from R960 to R1 010.
The government extended the child support grant to children up to 15 years in January 2009, meaning that the grant could benefit an additional 300 000 children, Molewa said, adding that her department aimed to register an additional 200 000 children under 15 years by the end of August.
“We recognise that despite all these efforts, over two million children over the age of 15 years remain trapped in poverty and, in response to this, we will soon table a plan for the phased extension of the child support grant to this category of children, to be implemented over the medium term expenditure framework cycle,” she said.
In tackling adult poverty, Molewa said the government would continue to implement its plan of achieving parity between men and women who qualified for old age grants.
Since July 2008, over 70 000 men aged 63 and 64 received grants as a result of the age equalisation policy. As of April 2009, the grant was extended to all men over 61 years.
“We expect to register 55 000 elderly men by the end of August this year,” she said.
Food price relief
In response to rising food prices, the department increased the social relief budget from R124-million to R624-million, distributed from November 2008 to April 2009.
Molewa said that in the context of the global recession, the department would maintain the expenditure necessary to ensure that those who suffered destitution were able to access social relief.
The department would also explore working with faith-based organisations and non-governmental organisations to assist in the distribution of social relief, in order to speed up delivery.
Molewa added that changes would be made to the South African Social Security Agency to enable it to improve turnaround times for processing grant applications, while the department was also working with the Post Office on measures to reduce the cost of grant payments and improve accessibility.