Budget constraints may limit bid to raise age of child support grants

A proposal to increase the age limit for child support grant recipients was one of the toughest debates in the social transformation committee, at the ANC’s national policy conference in Soweto. 

And is not a done deal, minister in the presidency and ANC national executive committee member Buti Manamela told the Mail & Guardian.

The social transformation committee resolved that branches should decide whether people should be eligible for child support grants up to the age of 21 – provided they are enrolled at a tertiary institution.

The decision will be taken at the ANC’s national elective conference in December.

Manamela told the M&G that this proposal is in response to people, particularly those in  child-headed households, who suddenly found themselves without income after turning 18.

“What happens to a young person who has been dependent on the state social security net for that period of time, then they turned 18 and nothing happens? They want to go study at university or TVET colleges, but they don’t have the means. What happens to child-headed households when the elder child turns 18?” Manamela asked.

The main concern with the proposal, Manamela said, was its effect on the state fiscus.

“This was one of the toughest discussions in the commission. First, the balance between the fiscal constraint and the fact that we have a shrinking tax base and then [because of] the question about whether we want to keep people in a social grant for that long,” he added.

The committee’s chairperson, Lindiwe Sisulu, said the committee also received a recommendation from ANC economic transformation committee chairperson Enoch Godongwana that discussions about social grants include a representative from the finance ministry.

The party’s policy conference at the Nasrec Expo Centre in Soweto concludes on Wednesday with reports on the different commissions’ proposals.

The ANC fell short of developing a strategy to combat the proliferation of homeless people on the street as a result of drug abuse.

Sisulu said the committee proposed harsher sentences for drug dealers, the employment of more social workers and the construction of rehabilitation facilities.

“One of the most serious crimes we’re dealing with is the rise in drug abuse, resulting in misdemeanour crimes and anti-social behaviour.
We have recommended that our social workers pay particular attention to this and we would like to ensure we have a greater number of rehabilitation centres. It is a serious problem in high-density communities,” Sisulu said

Manamela said the spike in the number homeless people would be left to the social development department to deal with. The issue of young people who are kicked out of their homes because they are addicts  was not discussed.

“We really haven’t looked at that, and I think we would probably push that [issue] into the recommendations for the branches to discuss,” Manamela told the M&G.

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