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Alarming child welfare statistics

Can SA afford to be a welfare state?

begging bowl

The number of children receiving social grants has increased 13 times since 2001, according to the latest South Africa Survey, published by the South African Institute of Race Relations.

  • Child support grant beneficiaries have risen by 1 200%, from 800 476 in 2001 to 10 387 238 in 2011.
  • Until 2008 only children up to the age of 13 years qualified to receive the child support grant. In 2009 the age increased to 14. In February 2011 government announced the extension of the child support grant to all children up to the age of 18 years.
  • Children on the child support grant account for 70% of all people on social welfare and they receive R260 a month. The child support grant accounts for 36% of total grant expenditure.
  • By 2013 the number of child support grant recipients will have increased to11 303 073, so that another one million children will be supported by the State. [Figures provided by SAIRR, January, 2012].

These figures present the Catch 22 of welfare: Obviously, there are children who are vulnerable to the challenges of poverty who need these grants in order to survive. However, detractors have cited teens who deliberately make themselves pregnant in order to benefit as just one of the pitfalls of child welfare grants.

As a developing nation, South Africa faces immense challenges in terms of providing for the poorer majority of kids, but is the economy capable of sustaining such a vast proportion of the country’s population? Bear in mind, of course, that the South African Constitution states: [Every child has the right] to basic nutrition, shelter, basic health care services and social services. (SA Constitution, Chapter 2: Bill of Rights, 28.1c)

Many people also believe excessive welfare has created problems in countries such as the UK, the perception being that it promotes economic passivity, and is behind many other social woes.

What do you think? Are welfare grants key to protecting children or are they setting the country up for further economic challenges?

By: Scott Dunlop

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