Streamlining Social Services Assistance with the UNDP ‘Social Register of Mauritius (SRM)’ project

 

The Social Register of Mauritius used as point of entry of Social programmes in Mauritius

  • The Proxy Means Test used to identify beneficiaries of Child Allowance Scheme
  • The Proxy Means Test is currently in use to identify and assess eligibility for the new ‘Child Allowance’ Scheme with a total of about 16,000 applications registered as of June 2013.
  • Development of the SRM software system to register and assess applications for social benefits.

The Government of Mauritius funds a wide range of social assistance schemes and programmes to improve the lives of individuals and households living under vulnerable conditions. The schemes are currently administered and implemented by various Ministries and institutions, which can result in duplication of records, as well as a lack of consistency and coherence in the eligibility criteria and assessment of applicants. Clients often spend a great deal of time in applying for the different schemes and programmes that are appropriate for their circumstances. Further, in a country like Mauritius where a large informal labour market exists and reported incomes are not easily quantifiable, a new and standard means of assessing individuals and households is necessary to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of social spending.

Mr. Dayachund Bundhoo, UNDP Mauritius, states:
 “The social welfare system in Mauritius is complex and costly to manage. There are a multitude of programmes, spread across several ministries and institutions. The eligibility threshold differs across programmes, and its definition is heavily based on ad hoc welfare assessments to identify the beneficiary. Moreover, the existing databases do not contain all relevant information for poverty targeting and do not cover the poor who are not eligible for social programmes. “

The SRM project commenced in 2008 under the UNDP Country Programme’s Pillar 1: “Planning and Resource Management for Inclusive Growth” with the planned outcome to “Improve capacity of government agencies in strategic planning, programme-based budgeting and effective public service delivery.” The Ministry of Social Security the project’s primary partner.

To date the project has successfully accomplished the following:
·    Estimation of a General Poverty Line and a General Poverty Profile for Mauritius
·    Production of targeting statistics for the current main social protection scheme in Mauritius (known as the Social Aid). These statistics provide performance indicators of the current Social Aid and also help identify areas of improvement.
·    Development of proxy means tests (PMT), which is more appropriate for the informal labour force in Mauritius. These tests form the basis for benefit allocation rules, and include a formula to identify eligible applications and to calculate allocations for beneficiaries.
·    Design of the SRM Questionnaire, used to collect data on the demographic and socio-economic characteristics of poor households, and on their living conditions.
·    Development of the SRM software system to register and assess applications for social benefits.
·    On-the-job capacity building of staff of the Ministry of Social Security on the use of the SRM software, and on the use of STATA software to produce relevant statistical analysis for more informed and evidence based policy decisions.
·    The SRM system became operational in February 2012 and has been used as point of entry for 3 new schemes (Housing, and Crèches in 2012; and Child Allowance in 2013) and for the Social Aid in 2013. A total of about 41,000 household applications (representing about 140,000 individuals) have been registered as of June 2013.
·    The Proxy Means Test is currently in use to identify and assess eligibility for the new ‘Child Allowance’ Scheme with a total of about 16,000 applications registered as of June 2013.

Mr Dayachund Bundhoo states “The SRM initiative was introduced to modernize public resources management and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of government spending. It was designed to become an exhaustive and centralized database of social programme beneficiaries with the following objectives:
·    Better target beneficiaries of social programmes.
·    Manage social programmes in an integrated way.
·    Better harmonize the criteria for the different social programmes run by different ministries.
·    Analyse cyclical and structural poverty reduction policies.
The main aim of the SRM project is to improve the targeting efficiency of social programmes so that maximum programme resources reach the poor (i.e. minimizing leakage to non-poor) and that the poor are not excluded (i.e. minimizing under-coverage of the poor). “
UNDP continues to assist the Government of Mauritius to gradually extend the use of the SRM and PMT, which has now become a core element of any anti-poverty policy, to other schemes with a view to rationalising and restructuring the whole social protection system.