Social grants ensure citizen development

A major activity of social development month is communicating the work that the department of social development does in relation to the disbursement of social grants, totalling close to R100-billion this year.

The South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) is the national agency that came into effect on April 10 2006 to administer the application, approval and payment of social grants in South Africa. Prior to the creation of SASSA, all nine provincial governments were responsible for the administration of social grants, but this created serious social delivery challenges.

SASSA is currently responsible for the disbursement of 10.5 million grants to more than 15 million beneficiaries each month. The social assistance grant isrecognized as the single most effective poverty alleviation programme of government according to research.

In the current financial year SASSA has a total administration budget of about R6.1-billion, 40% of which is used for payment of cash payment contractors. Total amount of grants disbursements for the current financial year is R97-billion.

Virginia Petersen, chief executive of SASSA, said that over the next five years it intended to improve its service delivery, develop a new payment model and automate business processes. Petersen said that SASSA has “turned the corner” and has developed “an integrated plan for service delivery improvements”. There remained a number of challenges though.

Petersen said that these challenges creating stumbling blocks were overcrowding at service points, sleepovers and early arrivals at service points, long waiting periods in waiting rooms, repeat visits by clients, backlogs in the processing of applications, lack of adequate office accommodation and a lack of standardisation of key business processes.

“We are addressing challenges with the introduction of queue management, booking systems, establishing satellite and mobile services to ensure that services are expanded; opening of over-crowded service points on Saturdays; introduction of rapid response teams to deal with back- logs in areas where service delivery pressures are experienced; establishment of stakeholder forums and regular engagement with beneficiaries,” said Petersen.

These measures address SASSA’s mandate to administer quality services, cost effectively and timely, using appropriate best practice by developing and implementing policies, programmes and procedures for an effective, efficient social grants administration system.

Petersen said they would also maintain their vision to deliver excellent customer care, automation of systems, improving organisational capacity and promoting good governance. The objective was to “ensure that the agency is optimally capacitated for optimal service delivery”.

This article originally appeared in the Mail & Guardian newspaper as a sponsored feature

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