New: A review of child poverty and value of the child support grant

10 Oct 2023
Front cover of 2023 CSG Review full report
10 Oct 2023

The South African social assistance programme is recognised worldwide for its efficiency and achievements and is widely regarded as the country’s most successful poverty alleviation strategy. The Child Support Grant (CSG) has been especially successful at reaching large numbers of poor children with relative ease and it has the best pro-poor targeting record of all the existing social grants. 

Its biggest weakness is that the value of the CSG, at R500 per month in 2023, is too small to protect the poorest children from hunger, malnutrition and stunting. Of the 20 million children in South Africa, just over 13 million receive the CSG every month. Yet more than seven million children remain below the food poverty line (FPL), which was R663 per person per month in 2022. In 2021, 37% of all children in South Africa were living below this poverty line. Twenty seven percent of all children under five are stunted. Children who are stunted are likely to struggle to learn in school, and this affects their employment prospects later. Stunting is a serious concern not only for individual children, their caregivers and households, but also for society as a whole. Taking these high rates of child poverty, malnutrition and stunting into account, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child have all recommended that the CSG amount be increased.

In 2020, the Minister of Social Development acknowledged that the CSG amount should be reviewed because it is below the food poverty line. In 2021 the National Department of Social Development commissioned us to conduct the review.

The purpose of the review was to:
• assess the state of child poverty in the country; • document the policy process in the development and expansion of the CSG; • review the impact of the CSG on child poverty; • review the value of the CSG in the context of child poverty and the cost of raising a child; • identify options for increasing the CSG, including vulnerable groups that can be targeted for top-ups; • calculate the budget implications of increasing the CSG value to the various levels; • assess each option based on cost, impact for children, as well as policy, legal and administrative implications; • recommend a plausible option based on this assessment; and • assess the potential impact on child poverty of increasing or not  increasing the value of the CSG.

► Click here to read the full report, or click here to read the summary of the report. 

► Watch a preview clip about the review here, and the longer post-launch video here.  

Here is a selection of the media coverage: