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Additional info for Changing Social Policy: The Child Support Grant in South Africa
2 was constructed on the basis of the best figures available at the time. It shows how SMGs were awarded to a far higher proportion of coloured and Indian children than to other groups in the early 1990s – 50 and 40 per 1 000 respectively, compared to about 2 per 1 000 African children. Whites received it at a rate of 14 per 1 000; they were (not totally effectively) means-tested out of the grant. Receipt levels for Indian people were high given the income levels. The coloured and Indian ‘parliaments’ in the tricameral system established in 16 the context the 1980s certainly introduced a level of political patronage in getting access to welfare benefits.
Effective implementation will require considerable resources in terms of new offices, more staff, and retraining of existing staff in an already overburdened court system. Even if vastly improved, many children will not be able to secure parental financial support through this route, because of the extent of unemployment, erratic employment and the numbers of fathers whose whereabouts are simply unknown. Nevertheless, it is important to attempt to reform the system and to reach those who can afford support more effectively, as one way in which society signals that parenting carries financial obligations.
30 The decision to be cautious was influenced by my conviction, based on discussions at the MINMEC meetings which led to the setting up of the Committee, that the SMG was vulnerable to a budget cut in ways that the pensions for elderly people and people with disabilities were not. 2 billion then being spent annually on SMGs could be easily lost, without being replaced by anything else. For example, it would most likely be used to offset provincial overspends on pensions for the elderly. It will be seen later that the disposition of the Committee as a whole was for achievable reforms which could be used as a basis for incremental improvements in future.