R151bn for social assistance programme

Friday, May 26, 2017

Pretoria – The Department of Social Development has allocated R151 billion towards its social assistance programme.

“We intend to use government’s investment in the social assistance programme to stimulate local economic development by way of introducing alternative pay points and local health shops,” said Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini on Thursday.

Delivering her Budget Vote in the National Assembly, Minister Dlamini said the provision of social grants is a fulfillment of the constitutional obligation of making freedom and democracy more meaningful for the poor and vulnerable.

“We do not take it lightly that social grants are a lifeline and often the only means of survival for many vulnerable people in our country,” she said.

The department has received a budget of R160 billion for this current financial year.

“We have over the past years made great strides in improving the South Africa Social Security Agency (Sassa) efficiency and its capacity to deliver on its constitutional mandate,” Minister Dlamini said.

The department has begun engagements with other organs of State towards phasing out the services of the current service provider.  

“We plan to phase-in the services of the new service provider by November this year. This will give us enough time to ensure a seamless transition when the current contract comes to end in March 2018,” Minister Dlamini said.

The department is also building a robust data governance platform to protect the information and data of beneficiaries.

“In line with our commitment to this House last year, work is already underway to implement identity and access management biometrics for staff and beneficiaries.

“Over and above these measures, we intend to amend the Social Assistance Act in this financial year with a view to introduce, amongst others, a Funeral and Savings Fund for social grant beneficiaries,” Minister Dlamini said.

Social work scholarship programme

The department will this year absorb more than 500 social work graduates, who completed their qualification through the Social Work Scholarship Programme.

“We are the first to acknowledge that this number is very low compared to the number of graduates still waiting for placement. We will continue our consultation with National Treasury with the view to restructure the financing options to relieve the current challenges,” Minister Dlamini said.

To date, the department has produced 13 262 qualified social workers, which has added much needed human capital to the sector.

“Of this number, 9 573 have been absorbed into full time employment mainly by the department, Non-Governmental Organisations and other sector departments,” Minister Dlamini said.

Early Childhood Development

Government has allocated a conditional grant for more than R800 million over the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF), starting this financial year.

“In 2013, we declared Early Childhood Development (ECD) a public good, focusing on the crucial First One Thousand Days.

“Research shows that the right nutrition during the first one thousand-day window has a profound impact on a child’s ability to grow, learn and thrive - and a lasting effect on a country’s health and prosperity,” Minister Dlamini said.

She said government is committed to the expansion of ECD services, focusing on the most rural and deprived communities throughout the country. 

“We will increase ECD coverage by expanding subsidies to poor children and improve the ECD infrastructure for conditionally registered ECD centres.  We have already finalised the conditional grant framework linked to the Division of Revenue Act,” Minister Dlamini said. – SAnews.gov.za

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