Income and Social Grants - Child Support Grants
Income and Social Grants - Child Support Grants
Author/s:  Katharine Hall
Date: February 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) 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 2013, a monthly CSG of R290 was paid to over 11.3 million children aged 0 – 17 years. The amount of the grant increased to R300 per month in October 2013.

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 0 – 6 years old. 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 2013 the income threshold is R3,000 per month for a single caregiver and R6,000 per month for the joint income of the caregiver and spouse, if the caregiver is married.

Using the 2004 GHS, it was calculated that 65% of all children under the age of 14 were eligible for the CSG in that they passed the old means test.1 Following the adjustment of the means test in 2008, the calculation was repeated, this time using the new means test and the 2007 GHS, which suggested that around 82% of children aged 0 – 13 years were eligible for the grant.2 Applying this eligibility rate to Stats SA mid-term population estimates for children aged 0 –17 years (the eligible age group in 2011), it is estimated that 76% of eligible children are accessing the CSG (although the actual take-up rate would be lower due to errors of inclusion).

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. 3

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. Grant take-up only peaks at around four years of age, and then gradually declines. This is likely to be a residual effect of the previous age cut-offs. The Department of Social Development has now commissioned research to investigate the low take-up amongst young children.

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

1Budlender D, Rosa S & Hall K (2005) At All Costs? Applying the Means Test for the Child Support Grant. Cape Town: Children's Institute & Centre for Actuarial Research, UCT.

2 Budlender D (2008) Feasibility and Appropriateness of Attaching Behavioural Conditions to a Social Support Grant for Children Aged 15 – 17 Years. Commissioned by the Department of Social Development. Johannesburg: Community Agency for Social Enquiry. [Unpublished]

3Budlender 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

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 2013, a monthly CSG of R290 was paid to over 11.3 million children aged 0 – 17 years. The amount of the grant increased to R300 per month in October 2013.

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 0 – 6 years old. 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 2013 the income threshold is R3,000 per month for a single caregiver and R6,000 per month for the joint income of the caregiver and spouse, if the caregiver is married.

Using the 2004 GHS, it was calculated that 65% of all children under the age of 14 were eligible for the CSG in that they passed the old means test.1 Following the adjustment of the means test in 2008, the calculation was repeated, this time using the new means test and the 2007 GHS, which suggested that around 82% of children aged 0 – 13 years were eligible for the grant.2 Applying this eligibility rate to Stats SA mid-term population estimates for children aged 0 –17 years (the eligible age group in 2011), it is estimated that 76% of eligible children are accessing the CSG (although the actual take-up rate would be lower due to errors of inclusion).

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. 3

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. Grant take-up only peaks at around four years of age, and then gradually declines. This is likely to be a residual effect of the previous age cut-offs. The Department of Social Development has now commissioned research to investigate the low take-up amongst young children.

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

1Budlender D, Rosa S & Hall K (2005) At All Costs? Applying the Means Test for the Child Support Grant. Cape Town: Children's Institute & Centre for Actuarial Research, UCT.

2 Budlender D (2008) Feasibility and Appropriateness of Attaching Behavioural Conditions to a Social Support Grant for Children Aged 15 – 17 Years. Commissioned by the Department of Social Development. Johannesburg: Community Agency for Social Enquiry. [Unpublished]

3Budlender 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