Social Security System: briefing

Social Development

17 September 1998
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Meeting report

WELFARE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE

WELFARE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
18 September 1998
SOCIAL SECURITY SYSTEM: BRIEFING

Document handed out:
Slide presentation on Social Security
Application process flow chart for grants

SUMMARY
The whole social security system was covered in the slide presentation, with some explanation, where requested. Delegates were present from each of the provinces and gave input on how the child support grant system and re-registration was progressing in their provinces.

DETAILED MINUTES
The chairperson outlined the elements of social security :
Private Savings or Insurance: people who voluntarily save for unexpected contingencies and provide for the future.
Social Insurance: joint contribution by employer or employee
Social Assistance: non-contributory income derived from benefits paid by the state.
Social Relief: Short-term measures to tide people over a crisis: The chairperson drew attention to the fact that in accordance with the Act, such relief "may" and not "must" be provided on a temporary basis or under special circumstances. The relief offered can get "out of hand" and the department is planning a summit which will look at closing loopholes

There followed a slide presentation on Social Security by the Deputy Director General, Ms M Ned, as well as a slide presentation on the application process for grants.

The point was made that the word "pension" was no longer used and should be referred to as a "grant". Likewise a "pensioner" should be referred to as a "beneficiary". Evidently the Minister has laid down that in future all processing of grants must be completed within a period of 3 months.

There followed a question and answer session after this presentation:
Mr C George (NP) asked why war veterans were not better compensated for the services they had rendered. The response was that they do receive slightly more than other beneficiaries and the chairperson felt that extra compensation should come from the Department of Defence.

Mr George asked when grants are paid into a bank account how does the department ensure that the beneficiary is still alive and living in the Republic of South Africa? The response was that life beneficiaries have to physically present themselves once a year. Not all provinces have done this, but it is planned to institute this system in all province as soon as possible.

Mr George asked whether the voucher system was still in operation, and if so how does it work and is it being abused? The answer was that it is still used and most provinces seemed to think it was controlled.

Ms M Turok (ANC) wanted to know whether all provinces pay social relief? The response was that they do and they have specific budgets to cover this which differ from province to province. Unevenness in the various budgets is due to the difficulty in budgeting for this type of relief but it is planned to discuss this in order to set up a formal format. Another question was whether all the provinces issue a receipt when an application for a grant is made? The answer was that the legislation is very specific in that every case must receive a receipt.

Mr R September (ANC) wanted to know the cost of conducting a means test. He was told that the screening is not a costly or laborious task these days as the details are fed into the computer system which supplies the relevant information. The next question was, if the disability is of a permanent nature, will the beneficiary still be required to submit himself for a regular medical report? The response was that if definitely permanently disabled, the beneficiary should not be required to have "to run around". The award is permanently. However a life certificate will still be required.

Ms Turok (ANC) asked whether the staff in the district offices had been trained as was proposed earlier? She was told that there is a move to carry out comprehensive training of staff in the district offices in the very near future.

Another committee member asked what the department is doing about ghosts? The response was that this subject is to be discussed later in the day, but Dr Triegaardt added that communities are now being involved to try and rectify this situation.

Delivery of social security
Child Support grant
Much concern was shown as to why the take-up of this grant in the first four months has been so low. The Deputy Director General said that by the middle of September the number of grants being paid was 6 624. Applications have been received from +- 8 000. This is substantially lower than anticipated. However this type of grant usually has a slow take up rate, but this acceleration as time goes on. The slow take up rate can also be ascribed to a very poor publicity campaign initially, which did not use community structures adequately. A new communication and marketing strategy has now been put in place and results should show within the next few months. Targeting is to be much more specific.

Problems experienced
Most children do not have ID at this age. Parents only seem to obtain ID for their children when they go to school.
Certification of necessary information has also proved difficult to obtain.

Home Affairs has undertaken to assist in the issuing of identity documents for children when it sends mobile units into rural areas for electoral purposes. The question raised on this was that in rural areas it is very difficult to obtain a birth certificate, so would it not be acceptable to use a baptismal certificate? The response by the Deputy Director General was that this is being looked into, but ID will still be required.

The chairperson said they had been informed that in rural areas the subsidised agencies were turning mothers away, saying they had no information whatsoever and therefore could not assist them. The Deputy Director General replied that this grant cannot be processed through voluntary agencies or NGOs. This has to be done by department offices. Mr Saloojee thought some arrangements should be made with voluntary or private agencies.

Comments from the provincial officials
Northern Cape: Home Affairs officials have already been accompanying Welfare officials to pay-out points for the issuing of ID books.

North West: Home Affairs is charging R6,00 for a birth certificate if a child is older that one year. This cost plus lack of transport or transport costs makes it virtually impossible for mothers to apply for Child Support Grants.

Mpumalanga: Initially many enquiries were received , but in comparing these with the actual applications received with the relevant documentation, there was a great "fall off".

Eastern Cape: They have also experienced the same problems, despite attempts to publicise the grant as much as possible using radio etc.

Western Cape: The take-up rate is 40% but as October is "Welfare month", they intend running a special campaign.

Re-registration
The Deputy Director General made it clear that re-registration is not intended to affect beneficiaries and the procedure to be followed must ensure that this is in fact the case.

Comments from the provincial officials
Free State: Has run a pilot project which eliminated 3-4% that should not have been in the system. Success of the project depended upon good communication and they worked closely with the Departments of Home Affairs and Health for the issuing of IDs and obtaining of medical reports.

Northern Province: Also ran a successful pilot project.

Gauteng : Has been training officials so that they have a good understanding of the process.

Northern Cape: Will start re-registration in November, and will carry on until August1999.

Eastern Cape: Will start at the end of October. They have already discovered that there are +-81 000 people who do not qualify for grants they are receiving e.g. 2 000 children who are over age.

KwaZulu Natal: Will be starting with a pilot project in October

Northern Cape: They are going to start a pilot project based on the Free State project.

North West: They have started a pilot project in a specific area.

The Deputy Director General stated the re-registration process should be completed by March 31, 2000

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