Income and Social Grants - Child Support Grants
Income and Social Grants - Child Support Grants
Author/s:  Katharine Hall
Date: August 2014
Definition
This indicator shows the number of children receiving the Child Support Grant (CSG), as reported by the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) which disburses social grants on behalf of the Department of Social Development.
Data
Data Source South African Social Security Agency (2008; 2009; 2010;2011;2012;2013;2014) SOCPEN database. Pretoria: SASSA.
Notes
  1. For the years 2005 and 2008, the child support grant was only available to children aged 0-13 years. From 2009, the grant was extended to include children aged 14 years. From 2012, the CSG has been available to children until they turn 18 years.
  2. SOCPEN figures are taken from the end of March each year (the financial year-end) 
  3. For trends from 1998 to 2009 (April figures), see the Social Grants link on the home page
What do the numbers tell us?

The right to social assistance is designed to ensure that people living in poverty are able to meet basic subsistence needs. Government is obliged to support children directly when their parents or caregivers are too poor to do so. Income support is provided through social assistance programmes, such as the CSG, which is an unconditional cash grant paid to the caregivers of eligible children.

Introduced in 1998 with a value of R100, the CSG has become the single biggest programme for alleviating child poverty in South Africa. Take-up of the CSG has increased dramatically over the past decade and, at the end of March 2014, a monthly CSG of R300 was paid to over 11.1 million children aged 0 – 17 years. This is slightly down from 11.3 million in 2013. In addition to the regular termination of grants to children who reach the age threshold of 18, over a million “invalid beneficiaries”, were identified during a re-registration process and removed from the system.1 The amount of the grant increases slightly each year and was worth R320 in October 2014.

There have been two important changes in eligibility criteria related to the age and income thresholds. The first concerns age eligibility. Initially the CSG was only available for children aged 0 – 6 years. Later it was gradually extended to older children up to the age of 14. Since January 2012, following a second phased extension, children are eligible for the grant until they turn 18.

The second important change concerns income eligibility. From 1998, children were eligible for the CSG if their primary caregiver and his/her spouse had a joint monthly income of R800 or less and lived in a formal house in an urban area. For those who lived in rural areas or informal housing, the income threshold was R1,100 per month. This threshold remained static for 10 years until a formula was introduced for calculating income threshold – set at 10 times the amount of the grant. From October 2014 the income threshold is R3,200 per month for a single caregiver and R6,400 per month for the joint income of the caregiver and spouse, if the caregiver is married.

There is substantial evidence that grants, including the CSG, are being spent on food, education and basic goods and services. This evidence shows that the grant not only helps to realise children’s right to social assistance, but is also associated with improved nutritional, health and education outcomes.2

Given the positive and cumulative effects of the grant, it is important that caregivers access it for their children from as early as possible. One of the main concerns is the slow take-up for young children. An analysis of exclusions from the CSG found that uptake rates for eligible infants under a year were as low as 50% in 2011, up only three percentage points from 47% in 2008. Exclusion rates were found to be highest in the Western Cape and Gauteng.3 Barriers to uptake include confusion about eligibility requirements and the means test in particular; lack of documentation (mainly identity books or birth certificates, and proof of school enrolment, although the latter is not an eligibility requirement) and problems of institutional access (including the time and cost of reaching SASSA offices, and long queues and lack of baby-friendly facilities).

Technical notes
The number of children receiving Child Support Grants is taken from the Department of Social Development’s administrative database – SOCPEN. The figures are taken from from daily reports for July of each year, to coincide with the timeframes for the General Household Survey.
Strengths and limitations of the data
There has never been a published review of the SOCPEN database, and the extent of the limitations of validity or reliability of the data has not been quantified. However, it is regularly used by the Department of Social Development and other government bodies to monitor grant take-up. 
References and Related Links

1Minister of Finance (2014) Budget Speech 2014: Check Against Delivery. Pretoria: National Treasury;

Parliamentary Monitoring Group (2014) Social Development. Question number: 2014/08. Written reply to parliamentary question 334/2014. Available: www.pmg.org.za/questions-and-replies/2014/03/28/social-development

2Department of Social Development, South African Social Security Agency & UNICEF (2012) The South African Child Support Grant Impact Assessment: Evidence from a survey of children, adolescents and their households. Pretoria: UNICEF South Africa.

Budlender D & Woolard I (2006) The Impact of the South African Child Support and Old Age Grants on Children’s Schooling and Work. Geneva: International Labour Office;

Case A, Hosegood V & Lund F (2005) The reach and impact of Child Support Grants: evidence from KwaZulu-Natal. In:Development Southern Africa, 22(4), October 2005: 467-482;

Samson M, Lee U, Ndlebe A, Mac Quene K, Van Niekerk I, Ghandi V, Harigaya T & Abrahams C (2004) The Social and Economic Impact of South Africa’s Social Security System. Commissioned by the Department of Social Development. Cape Town: Economic Policy Research Institute

3South African Social Security Agency & UNICEF (2013) Preventing Exclusion from the Child SuPport Grant: A study of exclusion errors in accessing CSG benefits. Pretoria: UNICEF South Africa.

Author: Katharine Hall

Definition
This indicator shows the number of children receiving the Child Support Grant (CSG), as reported by the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) which disburses social grants on behalf of the Department of Social Development.
Commentary

The right to social assistance is designed to ensure that people living in poverty are able to meet basic subsistence needs. Government is obliged to support children directly when their parents or caregivers are too poor to do so. Income support is provided through social assistance programmes, such as the CSG, which is an unconditional cash grant paid to the caregivers of eligible children.

Introduced in 1998 with a value of R100, the CSG has become the single biggest programme for alleviating child poverty in South Africa. Take-up of the CSG has increased dramatically over the past decade and, at the end of March 2014, a monthly CSG of R300 was paid to over 11.1 million children aged 0 – 17 years. This is slightly down from 11.3 million in 2013. In addition to the regular termination of grants to children who reach the age threshold of 18, over a million “invalid beneficiaries”, were identified during a re-registration process and removed from the system.1 The amount of the grant increases slightly each year and was worth R320 in October 2014.

There have been two important changes in eligibility criteria related to the age and income thresholds. The first concerns age eligibility. Initially the CSG was only available for children aged 0 – 6 years. Later it was gradually extended to older children up to the age of 14. Since January 2012, following a second phased extension, children are eligible for the grant until they turn 18.

The second important change concerns income eligibility. From 1998, children were eligible for the CSG if their primary caregiver and his/her spouse had a joint monthly income of R800 or less and lived in a formal house in an urban area. For those who lived in rural areas or informal housing, the income threshold was R1,100 per month. This threshold remained static for 10 years until a formula was introduced for calculating income threshold – set at 10 times the amount of the grant. From October 2014 the income threshold is R3,200 per month for a single caregiver and R6,400 per month for the joint income of the caregiver and spouse, if the caregiver is married.

There is substantial evidence that grants, including the CSG, are being spent on food, education and basic goods and services. This evidence shows that the grant not only helps to realise children’s right to social assistance, but is also associated with improved nutritional, health and education outcomes.2

Given the positive and cumulative effects of the grant, it is important that caregivers access it for their children from as early as possible. One of the main concerns is the slow take-up for young children. An analysis of exclusions from the CSG found that uptake rates for eligible infants under a year were as low as 50% in 2011, up only three percentage points from 47% in 2008. Exclusion rates were found to be highest in the Western Cape and Gauteng.3 Barriers to uptake include confusion about eligibility requirements and the means test in particular; lack of documentation (mainly identity books or birth certificates, and proof of school enrolment, although the latter is not an eligibility requirement) and problems of institutional access (including the time and cost of reaching SASSA offices, and long queues and lack of baby-friendly facilities).

Strengths and limitations of the data
There has never been a published review of the SOCPEN database, and the extent of the limitations of validity or reliability of the data has not been quantified. However, it is regularly used by the Department of Social Development and other government bodies to monitor grant take-up. 
Technical notes
The number of children receiving Child Support Grants is taken from the Department of Social Development’s administrative database – SOCPEN. The figures are taken from from daily reports for July of each year, to coincide with the timeframes for the General Household Survey.
References

1Minister of Finance (2014) Budget Speech 2014: Check Against Delivery. Pretoria: National Treasury;

Parliamentary Monitoring Group (2014) Social Development. Question number: 2014/08. Written reply to parliamentary question 334/2014. Available: www.pmg.org.za/questions-and-replies/2014/03/28/social-development

2Department of Social Development, South African Social Security Agency & UNICEF (2012) The South African Child Support Grant Impact Assessment: Evidence from a survey of children, adolescents and their households. Pretoria: UNICEF South Africa.

Budlender D & Woolard I (2006) The Impact of the South African Child Support and Old Age Grants on Children’s Schooling and Work. Geneva: International Labour Office;

Case A, Hosegood V & Lund F (2005) The reach and impact of Child Support Grants: evidence from KwaZulu-Natal. In:Development Southern Africa, 22(4), October 2005: 467-482;

Samson M, Lee U, Ndlebe A, Mac Quene K, Van Niekerk I, Ghandi V, Harigaya T & Abrahams C (2004) The Social and Economic Impact of South Africa’s Social Security System. Commissioned by the Department of Social Development. Cape Town: Economic Policy Research Institute

3South African Social Security Agency & UNICEF (2013) Preventing Exclusion from the Child SuPport Grant: A study of exclusion errors in accessing CSG benefits. Pretoria: UNICEF South Africa.