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Children’s Institute, University of Cape Town Centre for Applied Legal Studies, University of the Witwatersrand

Implementation of the child support grant

Beth Goldblatt, Centre for Applied Legal Studies, University of the Witwatersrand,
Solange Rosa, Children’s Institute, University of Cape Town,
Katharine Hall, Children’s Institute, University of Cape Town,

Centre for Applied Legal Studies, University of the Witwatersrand and the Children's Institute, University of Cape Town

January 2006

SARPN acknowledges the Children's Institute, UCT and the Centre for Applied Legal Studies, Wits University as the source of this document.
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Since its inception in 1998, the Child Support Grant (CSG) has been rolled out very rapidly and now reaches more than seven million children. It is having a significant impact on the alleviation of poverty by increasing children’s access to food, education and health care.

Despite this remarkable achievement, not all poor children are managing to access the grant. The way in which the grant is implemented is not always consistent across provinces or even within provinces. Certain implementation problems mean added burdens for poor primary care-givers in their interaction with the Department of Social Development (DSD), and some of the other government departments. Many of these problems can be easily solved and conditions be improved for grant applicants and beneficiaries. Such improvements would go a long way towards the realisation of all people’s rights to social assistance, as set out in Section 27 of the South African Constitution. Improvements in implementation would also bring current practice in line with administrative law as set out in the Constitution, legislation and common law.

The Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS) at the University of the Witwatersrand, is a research, advocacy and litigation organisation committed to human rights. It has a Gender Research Programme that has been researching the issue of gender and social security in South Africa. As part of this project, CALS has undertaken a fieldwork study in Gauteng and the North West Province to examine the implementation of the CSG and to consider the gender issues involved with the grant.

The Children’s Institute (CI) at the University of Cape Town is a policy and law reform research and advocacy organisation aimed at the realisation of children’s rights. One of its projects promotes children’s rights to social assistance in South Africa. The project in 2005 undertook a fieldwork study on the implementation of the means test for the CSG in the Eastern and Western Cape provinces.

This report brings together the findings of the two fieldwork studies, with recommendations for improved delivery of the CSG. We are mindful of the coming into force of the new Social Assistance Act 13 of 2004 and the regulations to the Act, and the imminent launch of the Social Security Agency and see these developments as opportunities to improve government policy on grants and grant administration. We are also aware that the department is commissioning research on the mean test, presumably with a view to improving or altering the current system. We hope that this report will assist the department in its forthcoming plans.

The first part of the report deals with the methodology of the research. The second part covers aspects of lack of consistent and coherent implementation of the current Social Assistance Act 59 of 1992 and the regulations thereto and makes recommendations for the improvement of implementation and the setting of norms and standards. The final part of the report examines issues that require changes in the law and provides recommendations for paring down the regulations and altering the law to make for a more stream-lined and accessible social grants administration.

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