by Linda Ensor

Social grants cancelled

The cancellation of social grants saves department millions

The cancellation of social grants saves department millions
Social grants cancelled

"The new biometric-based payment system for social grant beneficiaries have already paid off just a year after its implementation", says Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini.

During the reregistration of beneficiaries, more than 150,000 social grants were cancelled resulting in a saving of R150 million a year.

She said 20.7 million people had been successfully reregistered in the new system. This figure included both the beneficiaries of social assistance, which now extended to more than 16 million beneficiaries (of which 11 million were children) as well as people who did not themselves receive grants but who were registered to receive them on behalf of others — such as mothers, care-givers or procurators.

The minister also noted that to date, more than 900,000 children had benefited from the early childhood development programme. She added that the department was on track to provide universal early childhood development services by 2014.

Of the Department of Social Development’s total R120 billion budget for 2013-14, R113 billion would be spent on social assistance grants.

Ms Dlamini said the department was committed to rooting out fraud and corruption in the social security system and had registered about 7,700 cases of fraud in 2012-13, more than half of which had been finalised and closed.

"In an effort to clamp down on unscrupulous micro-lenders who exploit social grant beneficiaries, Sassa (the South African Social Security Agency) will not be processing any other deductions, except for funeral deductions that do not exceed 10% of the value of the grant, in line with regulations," she said.

In his speech, Democratic Alliance spokesman on social development, Mike Waters, called for the immediate closure of the National Development Agency, which he said was a complete waste of money. Of its budget of R171.7 million, a "staggering" R64.8 million was spent on salaries.

"Once you have paid the fat-cat salaries, board expenses and bought new furniture, we are left with 35%, or R59,7 million, for actual projects. Only one in every R3 goes towards a project."

Mr Waters said the social development department faced a management crisis that was affecting its functioning. Six of the eight top management positions were vacant, including seven deputy director-general posts.

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