Misuse of social grants is rife
BENEFICIARIES are misusing social grants by paying for hairdresser appointments and buying beauty products.
Furthermore, some caregivers who no longer have children in their care are still accessing their grants but failing to use the money for the children's benefit.
This is contained in a report on Child Support Grant Evaluation released by Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini in Gugulethu on the Cape Flats this week.
It found examples of misuse of grants, bribery and attempts to mislead or deceive officials in order to get grants.
Other problems included isolated incidents of corruption and bribery by official themselves.
An Eastern Cape-based social development official, who was interviewed, was quoted in the report as saying: "Some security staff demanded bribes for you to get the forms to apply".
Speaking at the launch of the report, SA Social Security Agency head Virginia Petersen said while 10.9 million households were in the grant system, about two million eligible beneficiaries were still to access grants.
Reasons for failure by eligible recipients to access grants included problems in gathering the correct paperwork, such as identity documents and birth certificates, a lack of information on how to apply, late applications and long queues.
Other reasons cited were finding the money to pay for transport to get to the social grant offices and people thinking they did not fit the eligibility criteria despite meeting the requirements.
During the 2010 survey data was collected from interviews conducted with 1700 people who cared for children across five provinces in 2007.
The information from the qualitative study showed that in the Eastern Cape more than 1.5 million people benefited from grants; 935,144 in Gauteng, just under 2 million in KwaZulu-Natal and 1.2 million in Limpopo.
Almost three-quarters (71%) of all grant beneficiaries were resident in these provinces.
Dlamini lauded the improvements made in the grant system but said social grants were not a "silver bullet".
"In order to holistically tackle poverty we must complement the social grants programme with the expansion of early childhood development services, the school nutrition programme, targeted free education and access to comprehensive health services to all children," Dlamini said.
She said since replacing the state maintenance grant, the number of people receiving grants had risen from 70,000 in 1998 to more than 12 million today.
During this financial year the government would spend about R105-billion on grants.
She said some highlights of the effects the study showed that access to grants could break the inter-generational transmission of poverty; that enrolment from birth had a positive effect on the child's early development, their cognitive abilities and health.
Research also found that children's propensity to engage in risky behaviour such as sex at a young age, alcohol and drug use, criminal activity and inductions into gangs, [is less] when grants are used effectively during their upbringing.