Budget 2018: UNICEF South Africa highlights its implications for children

23 February 2018

PRETORIA, 23 February 2018: UNICEF South Africa acknowledges the South African Government’s commitment to ensuring a balance between financial stability and ensuring the progressive realisation of children’s social and economic rights.

UNICEF is pleased to note that total government expenditure is projected to increase by an average of 1.9 per cent in real terms over the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) period and spending on some of the services that benefit children will grow faster than overall expenditure over the next three years. This means that transfers to non-profit organisations (mainly to deliver education and child and social welfare services) will increase by 5.3 per cent, household transfers will increase by 4.7 per cent. In addition, the child support grant and child care and dependency grant will increase by around 3 per cent, and overall spending on the social development and health sectors will increase by 2.3 per cent.

At the same time, more than R1.2 billion has been aside to combat violence against women and children and to smooth transfers to social welfare NGOs that deliver critical services at the provincial and district levels. This is indicative of the government’s vision that linking cash to the poorest and most marginalised children combined with intensified care and protection is likely to deliver larger and positive social benefits.

While these developments are encouraging, UNICEF is concerned about specific funding challenges for child-focused services, which may impact the realisation of children’s social and economic rights. Some of these include:

  • Funding cuts to provincial baseline budgets, thus increasing pressure on service delivery departments to reduce essential services for children;
  • Limited support to expand early childhood development services and less financing of NPOs;
  • Reduced capital investments in education and health at the provincial level, which may delay the roll-out of direly-needed infrastructure in under-resourced areas;
  • Unpaid provincial bills, especially in the health sector, which, given the country’s current health challenges, remain a concern.

In view of the budget challenges, we welcome the reference that was made in the State of the Nation Address for the corporate sector to complement government spending on child care and social services for children to enhance an accelerated investment in human capital over time.

Recognising that investment in children’s services takes time to produce tangible results, UNICEF stands ready to assist the government, civil society and corporate sector to better the lives of children in South Africa.

Media contacts

Sandra Bisin
Chief Communication and Partnership Section
UNICEF South Africa
Tel: +27 12 425 2700
Tel: +27 61 418 7486


UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in over 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special efforts on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children everywhere.

Working with a range of partners, UNICEF has had a presence in South Africa since the end of apartheid and continues to work towards bettering the lives of all children in the country.

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