Chapter 7 - Social Welfare
South Africa's constitution guarantees the right of all citizens to have access to social security, including, if they are unable to support themselves and their dependents, appropriate social assistance.Section 27 of Chapter 2 of the Bill of Rights states that “ (1) Everyone has the right to have access to (a) health care services, including reproductive health care”; (b) sufficient food and water; and (c) social security, including, if they are unable to support themselves and their dependents, appropriate social assistance. (2) The state must take reasonable legislative and other measures within its available resources to achieve the progressive realisation of each of these rights.”
Social assistance grants are one way in which the government gives people access to social security which is a right guaranteed in the Constitution. Everyone pays taxes to the government, through working (income tax) and buying things (VAT). Some of this money is used to pay social grants to people who cannot support themselves and/or their families.
The the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA).administers social assistance grants on behalf of the Department of Social Development.
Underpinning the whole welfare delivery system are the Batho Pele Principles (People First). This is a government programme to improve delivery in the public service and requires that eight service delivery principles be implemented by all public servants.
The main laws that concern social welfare are as follows:
Other Acts that concern social welfare include:
The Social Assistance Act
The Social Assistance Act provides a national legislative framework for the provision of different types of social grants, crisis intervention in the form of social relief of distress, the delivery of social assistance grants by a national Agency (SASSA), as well as the establishment of an Independent Tribunal for Social Assistance Appeals (ITSAA) and the Inspectorate for Social Security.
The South African Social Security Agency Act
The South African Social Security Agency Act makes provision for the effective management, administration and payment of social assistance and services through the establishment of the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA). Payment is either electronic (EFT) or manual. SASSA contracts service providers to administer its cash payments.
The relationship between SASSA and the Inspectorate
SASSA is the agent that is responsible for implementing social assistance policy, in other words, for process and delivery of social assistance. The inspectorate is a watchdog of the whole social assistance system and SASSA.
The functions of the Inspectorate are to:
The relationship between SASSA and the Independent Tribunal for Social Assistance Appeals (ITSAA)
In terms of the Social Assistance Act, the minister has to consider written appeals that will go to the Independent Tribunal for Social Assistance Appeals (ITSAA).
Section 18 includes reconsideration of a decision by SASSA.
The function of SASSA in respect of appeals is to:
The functions of the Appeals Tribunal are to:
The relationship between SASSA and cash payment contractors
The payment of grants is now largely made through Electronic Fund Transfers; however the payments of grants in cash still occurs although it is being phased out. SASSA has contractual relationships with cash payment contractors who are responsible for the physical payment of grants in cash at various agreed sites. The payment of cash grants is more expensive and is also vulnerable to fraud, theft and abuse and the EFT system is therefore preferred.
The Children’s Act and the Children’s Amendment Act
The Children’s Act (No 38 of 2005) and the Children’s Amendment (No 41 of 2007) bring South Africa’s child care and protection laws in line with the Bill of Rights and International law. The purpose of both Acts is to give effect to children’s rights to:
The Children’s Act was passed in 2005 but only signed into law in June 2006. Certain sections of the Act came into force from the 1st July 2007 and the remaining sections are dealt with in the Children’s Amendment Act and regulations became fully operational in 2010.
The Children’s Amendment Act was passed by parliament at the end of 2007 and the regulations have since being finalized. This Act and the regulations make changes to social support for children by providing for the following services to children and their families:
Also read Chapter 8: Family Law and violence against women, for more information.
The following sections of the Act are relevant to social grants:
Types of social grants
In terms of the Social Assistance Act social assistance is provided in the form of the following types of grants:
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