Facts you might not know about social grants

Facts you might not know about social grants

Data from Stats SA’s latest Financial statistics of national government report1 provides some insights into government spending on social grants. Below are just two examples about the grant spending social welfare system in South Africa.

Fact 1: For every R100 national government spends on social grants, R42 goes to family and children grants; R41 goes to old age grants; and R16 goes to sickness and disability grants. The remaining R1 of the R100 consists of grants such as social relief-of-distress grants (for example, food parcels in the event of natural disasters).


It is possible that some individuals get more than one grant. For example, an individual who requires medical care and has a disability will receive both sickness and disability grants. If that same person is older than 60, she/he will also quality for an old age grant.


Fact 2: The number of households receiving at least one form of social grant rose from 29,9% (of the population) in 2003 to 44,3% in 2010, according to the latest General Household Survey report2 from Stats SA. This rose to 45,5%in 2015. Further details and analysis on the issue of the growing social welfare net are available from Stats SA’s Poverty Trends in South Africa report3.


Government has increased spending on social protection by 39% over a five-year period, from about R87 billion in 2010/11 to about R121 billion in 2014/15, according to data from Stats SA’s latest Financial statistics of national government report.



Various factors contributed to the annual increase in the amounts paid out in the form of grants, the two most significant ones being inflation and the increase in the number of beneficiaries.

1Download Financial statistics of national government here. Using financial data from 43 government departments, the report measures the impact of both the economic and functional effect of government spending, gauging the extent of the cost of certain functions (for example, health, education, defence) against their economic impacts (for example, salaries and wages).

2 Stats SA. General Household Survey, 2015. Figure 24. Download here.

3 Stats SA. Poverty trends in South Africa: An examination of absolute poverty between 2006 and 2011. Download here.