Year: 2002
Author: Seekings, Jeremy
Unit: SSU
Journal: Social Dynamics
Volume: 28
Issue: 2
Pages: 1-38
DOI: 10.1080/02533950208458731

On the agenda for welfare reform in South Africa are proposals to expand the public provision of welfare in radical new ways. Not only does this contrast with the prevailing global trend of retrenchment in public welfare systems, but the proposed 'basic income grant' in South Africa is an innovation that remains a fringe idea even in the established welfare states of the North. The very unusual agenda for welfare reform in South Africa is based on the fact that the country already has a welfare system that is exceptional in the world, including especially a non-contributory old-age pension that provides a guaranteed minimum income for the elderly, and financial assistance to poor parents with children and to the disabled. The basic income grant has been proposed, most recently in 2002 by the Taylor Committee of Inquiry into a Comprehensive System of Social Security for South Africa, in order to fill the gap caused by high unemployment in South Africa's existing welfare system, which is otherwise already generous and redistributive. Whilst the proposed basic income grant is the key item on South Africa's innovative reform agenda, the country is also making important contributions to broader debates over welfare through its mix of familial, state and private responsibilities.