SA social welfare system revisited

October 23, 2008

SA social welfare system revisited

by Amy Musgrave and Karima Brown

THE tripartite alliance is considering a raft of changes to SA?s social welfare system, including creating a department of social security and a basic income grant .

Resolutions from the weekend alliance economic summit will shape the election manifesto of the African National Congress (ANC ) when it is launched on January 8.

Head of the ANC?s economic transformation committee Max Sisulu yesterday said the alliance would have to cost the proposals, which depart from previous government policy dismissing options such as a basic grant.

?We have very good proposals, but we need to cost them and find out how sustainable they are ,? Sisulu said.

Poverty remains widespread in SA, the alliance said, and the new policy will be based on three elements . One is a social ?endowment? ensuring free basic water, electricity, sanitation, basic education and subsidised housing. The second pillar would ensure access to existing benefits such as disability and health insurance. The third calls for a bigger government role in regulating the private market to ensure consumer protection.

Other proposals are the extension of the child support grant from 15 to 18 years, a flat benefit for unemployed workers whose UIF unemployment insurance fund has expired, a mandatory social insurance system, a uniform national pension scheme and a national health insurance scheme with free health care .

These proposals could change the face of government . ?It was agreed that the necessary steps would be taken to realign departments and ensure proper co-ordination to implement this agenda ,? the alliance said .

Some of the changes are expected to be reflected in tomorrow?s medium-term expenditure framework .

BUSINESS DAY 20th October 2008

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