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SOCIAL ASSISTANCE REFORM PROPOSALS AND DEBATES. National civil society consultation August 2008. Acknowledgement. This presentation is largely informed by the reform proposals outlined in the discussion document:

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social assistance reform proposals and debates

SOCIAL ASSISTANCE REFORM PROPOSALS AND DEBATES

National civil society consultation

August 2008

acknowledgement
Acknowledgement

This presentation is largely informed by the reform proposals outlined in the discussion document:

Creating our Future: Strategic Considerations for a Comprehensive System of Social Security

(The Social Security Branch, Department of Social Development, June 2008).

Consultation report: Observations on Social Security Reform in South Africa – Social Security Department International Labour office – July 2008

Please note the proposals are not necessarily positions of the Black Sash.

structural poverty the need for social assistance
Structural poverty: The need for social assistance

South Africa's socio-economic conditions are largely structural with the majority excluded from economic and social opportunities

  • The South African population size is about 48 million
  • Close on 13 million people are formally and informally employed.

But:

  • Over 7,3 million people are unemployed (including discouraged work seekers)
  • 35% of the unemployed are youth under 25 years old
  • 51% of school leavers will not get jobs

Simultaneous with economic growth we experience a widening gap between rich and poor.

social assistance a brief historical perspective
Social Assistance: A brief historical perspective
  • South Africa inherited the Anglo-American tradition of social welfare services - providing assistance to the ‘deserving poor’:
    • those who qualified according to a means test and
    • were seen to belong to a vulnerable category – old people, children and the disabled
  • This system was implemented along unequal, racial lines
social assistance a brief historical perspective continued
Social Assistance: A brief historical perspective - continued
  • In 1994 social grants were equalized and extended to a much greater number of people
  • Now over 12,4 million people receive social assistance, largely comprising the 8 million children who receive the CSG
  • The cost of the social assistance programme has increased enormously and is at 3,5% of GDP.
  • However, many people are still excluded. The system of means tested categorical grants for ‘vulnerable groups’ has been maintained – and unemployed adults and the working poor remain unprotected.
the gaps in social assistance
The gaps in Social Assistance

The following categories of poor people receive no income support from government:

  • At least 2 million children between ages 15 to 18
  • Care givers of children in need
  • Unemployed youth (19-25) and adults (26-59)
  • People with chronic illness, unless they are functionally disabled

All the grants are currently means tested - excluding many poor people who earn just over the very low prescribed thresholds.

progressive principles informing our approach to social assistance
Progressive principles informing our approach to Social Assistance
  • We need a Social Assistance Policy Framework, linked to Social Insurance, that takes account of high levels of poverty, unemployment and inequality.
  • Social Assistance can be linked to other opportunities such as employment and training
  • However conditionalitiesshould not block access to assistance particularly in the absence of adequate state programmes
  • Monetary values proposed should provide for income sufficiency, dignity and full citizenship
campaigns for comprehensive social assistance
Campaigns for Comprehensive Social Assistance
  • 2002: The Taylor Committeerecommended a comprehensive system of social security including a universal Basic Income Grant (BIG),to meet the needs created by high levels of unemployment and poverty.

Civil society has therefore continually advocated for a comprehensive social security system which would give meaning to the Constitutional right to dignity and social security.

  • 2007: The proposal for a BIG and to extend the Child Support Grant was adopted at the ANC’s Polokwane conference and included in its programme of action
  • 2008: The Social Security Branch of the Department of Social Development has put reform proposals onto the table to meet the demand for comprehensive social assistance.
proposal the child support grant and care giver grant
Proposal: The Child Support Grant and Care giver grant:

The Social Security Branch of the Department of Social Development proposes:

  • To extendthe Child Support Grant (CSG) to children up to the age of 18 (until the 19th birthday)
  • That all designated caregivers for child recipients of the CSG should receive a Care Givers Grant at least equal to the value of the CSG
  • That the means test should be progressively increased and the grant ultimately madeuniversalwith a tax ‘claw back’ from higher income earners.
  • Gradually increasing the amount of the CSG to the level of income sufficiency and applying an annual increase of 2% in excess of general inflation.
proposal assistance for unemployed adults aged 25 59
Proposal: Assistance for unemployed adults (Aged 25 – 59)

The Social Security Branch of the Department of Social Development proposes

  • A social assistance grant at 10% of the minimum wage

(Minimum wage set at R1 000 in 2007)

  • The grant be conditional on beneficiary involvement in a labour activation programme (skills development and special employment programme)

Advocacy issues

  • Conditionality should not block access to the grant particularly in the absence of adequate state programmes
  • Monetary values proposed should provide for income sufficiency, dignity and full citizenship
proposal assistance for unemployed adults aged 19 24
Proposal: Assistance for unemployed adults (Aged 19 – 24)

The Social Security Branch of the Department of Social Development proposes

  • A social assistance grant at 15% of the minimum wage

(Minimum wage set at R1 000 in 2007)

  • The grant be conditional on beneficiary involvement in a skills development programme;

If implemented fully, this programme will target 12% of the population in poverty and improve employability.

Advocacy issues

  • Conditionality should not block access to the grant particularly in the absence of adequate state programmes
  • Monetary values proposed should provide for income sufficiency, and promote effective participation in training.
proposal older persons grant
Proposal: Older persons grant

The Social Security Branch of the Department of Social Development proposes that the existing State Old Persons Pension (“SOAP”) become universal, i.e. with the means test entirely removed.

Advocacy issues

  • Monetary values proposed should provide for income sufficiency, dignity and full citizenship
proposal chronic illness grant
Proposal: Chronic illness grant

The definition of disability in the Harmonized Assessment Tool –approved by cabinet – excludes chronic illnesses.

In this light, the The Social Security Branch of the Department of Social Development proposes

  • A means-tested chronic illness grant
  • That HIV/AIDS and TB be included as chronic illnesses
  • Beneficiaries must continue with their treatment
proposal chronic illness grant continued
Proposal: chronic illness grant - continued

Advocacy issues

  • The The Social Security Branch of the Department of Social Development has not yet costed this grant as are awaiting prevalence figures.
  • We will need to argue that the inevitably high cost is justified by the positive impact of income on nutrition and access to treatment and therefore the prevention of disability.
  • The grant should be provided without the burden of reviews and re-applications as a chronic illness is by definition permanent.
  • Monetary values proposed should support healthy lifestyle
in conclusion
In conclusion

After 14 years of advocacy, we finally have proposals for a comprehensive social assistance programme on the table from government.

This is a major policy moment.

As civil society, we need to engage vigorously at all policy levels to ensure the most progressive outcome.