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.
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- Push to increase social benefits for children SABC TV, 8 October 2023
- Minister Zulu launches child poverty and Child Support Grant review eNCA, 6 October 2023
- Researchers advise social development department to increase child support grant TimesLive, 6 October 2023
- Government-commissioned report recommends increase of Child Support Grant EWN, 6 October 2023
- Eight million hungry children: New report about the shocking impact of poverty Daily Maverick, 6 October 2023
- Review report on child grant: R500 is not enough - Lindiwe Zulu City Press, 06 October 2023