SA's social security on the right track - Doidge

Monday, November 9, 2009

Cape Town - Government is confident that considerable progress is being made to transform the country's social security system.

Public Works Minister Geoff Doidge said on Monday that the phasing-in of the age of equalisation in terms of the old age pension was progressing well.

He was speaking at the Social Protection and Community Development Cluster Programme of Action (PoA) media briefing in Cape Town. This is the first report since the inception of the cluster under the new administration. This briefing provides an update on the implementation of the priorities outlined in the PoA.

As of the end of September, there were about 178 000 men aged 61 to 64 years receiving the old age pension. The Social Assistance Act provides for men aged 60 years to qualify from April 2010 and the National Treasury has made the necessary budget allocation for this final phase.

Doidge said equal progress was being made in respect of the extension of the Child Support Grant.

Cabinet has recently approved the gradual extension of coverage of the Child Support Grant, over the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF), to eligible children from their 15th to 18th birthday.

"This extension will benefit approximately 2 million children from poor households. The total cost, over the MTEF, will be R1.3 billion, R2.6 billion and R3.5 billion respectively," Doidge said.

The Child Support Grant for 15-year-olds will start on 1 January 2010; 16-year-olds on 1 January 2011 and 17-year-olds on 1 January 2012.

Since the beginning of this financial year, the South African Social Security Agency has registered more than 442 000 children up to the 15th birthday.

Meanwhile, Doidge said a task team appointed to look into the issue of comprehensive social security has met its deadline of completing a draft on social security and retirement reform.

The Consolidated Government Position Paper will be released for public consultations pending Cabinet approval.

Government is also determined to create a comprehensive social security and retirement system to ensure that the majority of South Africa's poor benefited from the provision.

"The reform proposals advocate for a system that ensures that the majority of South Africa's poor benefit from expanded non-contributory or social assistance measures," Doidge said.

He said the proposals advocate for the introduction of reforms that lay a foundation for an inclusive retirement system that is consistent will international trends, which will protect the majority of South Africa's working population against income reversals during job losses and income replacement upon retirement.

The Consolidated Government Document also covers proposals on the expansion of coverage of the Unemployment Insurance Fund, the introduction of a no-fault system of Road Accident Insurance as well as the National Health Insurance.