Types Of Social Assistance


Social policy incorporates the provision of basic services – healthcare, education, water and sanitation and other and social protection. Social security includes three principle parts: social insurance, social assistances, labour market intervention and community based or informal social protection. Social protection covers contributory projects covering life course and work-related contingencies. Social assistance contains tax financed programmes managed by government agencies and addressing deprivation and poverty. In the labour market it provide active and passive labour market policies securing basic rights while enhancing the employability.

1. Social assistance

There are various diversity in designs of social assistance in developing and developed countries. In developed countries social assistance depends on an income maintenance design, and providing income transfers that aimed at filling in the poverty gap.

In developing countries, it includes a variety of programme design, including pure income transfers as in non-contributory pensions or child grants and allowances; income transfers combined with asset accumulation and protection as in human development conditional transfer programmes or guaranteed employment schemes; and integrated anti-poverty programmes covering a range of poverty dimensions and addressing social exclusion There is also diversity in scale, scope and institutionalisation in social assistance across countries, and across programmes within countries. (Pellissery, Barrientos, 2013)

Various social assistance whether cash transfer or employment or kind etc. is being implemented around the globe. The efficacy of the policy and programme depends upon the implementation and the impact that it create on the society, I this view the later part describe about the various form of social protection either promotive, protective, preventive or transformative.

1.1 Cash transfers

“Although cash transfers are not a panacea, they have been demonstrably effective and are seen as a viable mechanism in both developmental and humanitarian contexts. Conditional Cash Transfer (CCTs), implemented in Latin America with great success, are seen to be a way of mitigating the risk of cash transfers being misused. CCTs yield rapid, positive impacts (poverty alleviation, improved health and education outcomes) and break the ‘vicious cycle’ of intergenerational poverty in the long-term. However, CCTs are criticised for having high administrative, monitoring and enforcement costs, being too reliant on targeting, having a disempowering effect on recipients and negatively affecting overall levels of consumption amongst both beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries.” (Scott, 2012)

1.2 Cash transfers in emergencies

Cash transfer can be effective during emergency or crisis while offering a protective mechanism which has immediate effect on the person through various means either innovative like mobile banking etc or tradition by cash in hand or in bank. It support when the formal institution of protection is failed and there is no other alternative for social protection.

1.3 Social Pensions

It is a non-contributory pension which include a targeted cash transfer by age or widow or people with disability. Various study shows that the cash transfer in the context of social pension gave confidence and support to the targeted person or household. In general the literature suggests that social pensions have been employed particularly successfully in southern African context.

1.4 Public works programmes

It is a type of conditional transfer where cash or food is given in exchange for work on public infrastructure projects, such as road building. During recent times these social protection measure is widely applied around the globe due to consequence of food and financial crisis. This measure create assets, produce jobs and somehow targeted as it be unattractive to the non-poor due to low wages or ration are paid. Though the sustainability of this measure is till when the state is willing to provide because it creates a dependency on state. Available study indicate that while short term public works create and promote consumption and demand during the market failure but the long-term social protection function is likely to be limited unless guaranteed employment is introduced.

1.5 In-kind transfers

In-kind transfer’s non-cash assets went to vulnerable or deprived individuals and households, often with the aim of modifying or influencing the behaviour of recipients. There is considerable debate over whether in-kind transfers should be favoured over cash transfers, despite the latter being popular for providing beneficiaries with choice in accordance with needs, as well as providing an opportunity for investment. (Zoe Scott, 2012)

1.6 Food

There has been numerous debate on food vs cash transfer around the globe since and prior to 1970s, on whether food transfer can be used as an alternative to cash or both are complementary to each other, whether food transfers are a nutritional or economic intervention, whether they aim to only ‘feed people’ or aim to support livelihoods.

It has been thought that when there will be food crisis either by market failure or shortage due to lack of supply, or there be a crisis when food are needed, food transfer are preferable, beside other protective measure.

1.7 Utility subsidies

Protection in the form of utility such as housing, electricity and water are provided to lessen the burden of expenditure on these items by people, though despite having the provision of Indira awas yojana along with various scheme, it has been widely accepted that the benefits of utility subsidy doesn’t reach the target people or communities living in an area withought electricity and water. It has been seen as more costly to implement than other form of social assistance. Despite being costly housing subsidy runs with less risks of excluding the most vulnerable.

1.8 Health fee waivers

There is large debate going on Universal health care and targeted health care. One provide a system through which everyone are eligible for health care while contributing up to the fiscal budget whereas targeted has its own flaw of selection and implementation and reach to the targeted people. Though it has been inferred that health service waivers or health fee waiver or exemptions will only be effective if there would be a nationwide policy which effectively monitored and enforced at local and national levels

1.9 In India context

In India the introduction of social assistance were introduced since the British period but it was only for the employee in formal sector and a large portion of population, those who were employed in informal sector were excluded from this. And again after independence until the 1990s the main focus of central government were rural development and social protection didn’t get much attention. There were many rural development program such as integrated rural development program or anti-poverty program, which aimed to provide food and nutrition, basic services like education, healthcare, and housing and employment generation came. In meantime many state introduced various program such as +pension for agricultural landless labourer, maternity benefits, disability benefit etc. depending upon the need but very often these program were introduced as electoral instruments to gain votes. It is important to notice the welfare regime in India could be classified as clientelist or populist.

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In the last two decades, there has been a reversal of the story.” The central government has enacted a number of social assistance measures by enacting court enforceable right-based promises to the erstwhile directive principles (such as right to education, right to employment and others) enshrined in the Constitution of India. From the point view of social assistance, three developments are important. First, in 1995 the central government introduced the National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP) under which five different benefits were provided. They complemented existing provision by federal states. These benefits were the Old-Age Pension Scheme (reaching 8.3% of elderly households), Widow Pension Scheme (6.2% of widow households), Disability Pension Scheme (reaching 14.1% of disabled households), Family Benefit Scheme (onetime relief for the families where main breadwinner accidently died) and Annapurna (food for the elderly households” (Pellissery, Barrientos, 2013)

The second and third development took place when the Congress Party-headed United Progressive Alliance government assumed power in 2004. A clamour for food security were supported by civil society movement along with right to employment boost the fillip of decade in the context of social protection. Later the UPA government put forth the social security program for unorganised sector workers, Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana, designed particularly for the workforce in the unorganised sector. That has already provided insurance against hospitalisation to 40 million households. Along with other social protection scheme or program there come various rights which insures social security but the reality seems different. One of the most interesting and effective social assisistance in the developing world is the Brazil’s Bolsa Familia. The Brazilian constitution enshrined a right to social protection and that led to consideration on the role and scope of social security and on the role of government to providing it is based on the citizenship principle and for all Brazzilians.

2. Social insurance

.“Social insurance schemes are contributory programmes in which beneficiaries make regular financial contributions in order to join a scheme that will reduce risk in the event of a shock. Because health costs can be very high, health insurance schemes are a popular way of mitigating risk from illness. However, some people argue that they are too expensive for the

Poor and should be complemented with social assistance. Other types of social insurance schemes include contributory pensions, unemployment insurance, funeral assistance and disaster insurance. Social insurance is strongly linked to the formalised labour market, meaning that coverage is determined by number of formal workers in a country. The informal labour market therefore presents a strong challenge to the success of social insurance programmes”. (Scott, 2012)

3. Labour market interventions

Labour market interventions give protection to poor people who are able to work. Interventions are both active and passive. The active programmes or policy in the context of social protection include training and skills development and employment counselling, whereas passive interventions include, income support, unemployment insurance and changes to labour legislation, for example in Establishing a safe working conditions or minimum wage. Labour market social protection provide various social assistance and cash transfer programmes and can be integrated into longer-term development strategies

4. Community-based social protection

Formal social protection framework do not offer complete coverage and exclude a section of society. “A variety of conventional or ‘informal’ ways of providing social protection to households, groups and networks fill some of the gaps left by formal social protection interventions and distribute risk within a community. There is also considerable interest in the potential for community-based mechanisms to be scaled up in order to undertake wider development activities, and in how to create links between social security schemes and community-based approaches with the aim of extending coverage to meet the challenge of providing adequate health services to the developing world.” (Zoe Scott, 2012)

2. Residual and institutional social welfare

Residual idea of social welfare says in the distribution of social welfare, government should have a limited role. The underlying assumption is that the individual is free to do anything unless it doesn’t harm other and majority of population will find their sustenance and assistance by their own, either by market mechanism, family or social network. So the state only intervene when they fail to support themselves and unable to find any support system. Whereas the institution school of thought describe state as protecting individuals from the social cost of capitalist economy.

does Social protection a residual social welfare

The “Directive Principles” of the Constitution give obligation to the government and its policy to lay down goals and direction for the realisation of the rights. Article 41, 45 and 47 gave a sense of social protection but for the nuanced understanding of the rights and its realisation we have to look at the reality of its content and implementation.

Article 41. which directs the state to “within the limits of its economic capacity and development, make effective provision for securing the right to work, to education and to public assistance in cases of unemployment, old age, sickness and disablement, and in other cases of undeserved want”;

Article 45. by which “the State shall endeavour to provide, within a period of ten years from the commencement of this Constitution, for free and compulsory education for all children.”

Article 47. by which “the State shall regard the raising of the level of nutrition and the standard of living of its people and the improvement of public health as among its primary duties. (Constitution of India, ministry of law and justice)

Society exist because it is in everyone interest to have peace and peace can only prevail if there is sovereign authority to punish those who breach it. There are various indication and updates about the failure of government machinery in india.in the context of social protection the policies and programme that are intended to reach the beneficiary doesn’t reach to them and in the lack of proper institution mechanism the policy itself became a residual in approach. Be it old age pension scheme or MGNREGA. The dominant logic is that the poor are the ward of the state and the state have the responsibility of taking care of its citizen especially poor. But the other school of thought says that the bigger the size of government the larger the burden on the populace. The more government subsidies the resources for the poor the more likely to vulnerability during the failure of support system by the state because of their dependency on the state.

A key challenge faced at the time of introduction of all social assistance programme is from the right-wing that social assistance expenditure is both ineffective and wasteful. What been effective to counter such a position has been the discourse on inequality? The growth story of India has widened inequality rather than bridge the gap. Therefore, introduction of social assistance was seen as helping to act as an inclusive instrument for the poorer sections. Pellissery, Barrientos, 2013). The presence of institutional mechanism but the delivery of services create an atmosphere where the social protection turn up as just a residual kind of thing to the people.

There are around 300 different type of anti-poverty scheme in India that is spread over 13 different ministries. But the integration among them is hardly seen visible. In the name of financial inclusion the still “Krishna get the credit but nobody think about Sudama”. The millennium development goal vow for eradicating poverty but still some part of the globe still suffering from hunger and malnutrition and chronic poverty




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