The Intended Consequences of the Social Assistance Grants in South Africa
AbstractThis paper was drawn from a broader study conducted on the role of social grants in Ngqwushwa Local Municipality in the Eastern Cape Province in South Africa. The study used a sample of 541 beneficiaries who were either administered questionnaires, interviewed or participated in focus group discussions. The aim of this paper is to explore whether the intended consequences of the social grants are being achieved among the poor rural population. The results of the study have identified social grants as effectively targeted; because of its relatively efficient targeting, social grants are by far the category of government expenditure that most concentrates its benefits on the poorest. It emerged that social grants improve both the welfare of beneficiaries and their entire households. Also, there is support of the investment in productive assets, both human and capital. The grants money is further used for education expenditure that includes school fees, transport and uniforms. The money is used even to upgrade/construct houses; buy clothes and payment of water, electricity and other bills. Thus the grant money is used by beneficiaries in a number of ways, some urbane, some less so. However the study confirms that the poor are well aware of their individual needs and some of the intended consequences of the social grants are remarkable. However, the issue of poverty still remains as a major problem.
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