/ 17 March 2008

Social-grant means test under review

Social Development Minister Zola Skweyiya on Monday released a discussion document that could see the current means test for social-grant eligibility overhauled.

”It is the view of the department that the means tests are outdated and consequently exclude many poor people from the safety net,” Skweyiya said in a statement.

The means-test thresholds for the various grant types had remained unchanged since their introduction in the 1990s.

”The means tests necessarily require adjustment to enable government to expand the social safety net to thousands of the poor and vulnerable,” the minister said.

Overhauling the current means test would provide a respite to thousands of poor people who currently do not qualify for social grants.

”Many of the poor so excluded continue to be adversely affected by the spiralling prices of basic necessities and the overall cost of living as a result of inflation,” Skweyiya said.

Given the current inflationary pressures, it had become necessary for the social-grant system to be reviewed.

”Over time, the increases in inflation have diminished the value of the grants for those within the safety net and the stagnant means-test thresholds have locked out those barely surviving on earned income marginally above such thresholds,” Skweyiya said.

The report, undertaken by the director of the Economic Policy Research Institute, Michael Samson, recommends that child support grants be doubled to R1 900 per month.

However, Skweyiya said the extent to which this recommendation would be implemented would be determined by the country’s resources. — Sapa