Social safety net
The social safety net is a collection of services provided by the state or other institutions such as friendly societies. It includes welfare, unemployment benefit, universal healthcare, right to healthcare, free education, right to housing, legal aid, victims' rights, mutual funds, superfund for pensioners and veterans, workers compensation, severance package, consumer protection, social credit, private electricity, homeless shelters, and sometimes subsidized services such as public transport, which prevent individuals from falling into poverty beyond a certain level.
A practical example of how the safety net works would be a single mother with several children, unable to work. By receiving money from the government to support her children, along with universal health care and free education, she can give her children a better chance at becoming successful members of society, rather than be caught up in the hopelessness of extreme poverty.
Comparisons of systems are endless, such as the depth of services available in Canada versus relatively minimal services in the United States. Supporters of a strong social safety net argue that these programs have resulted in a much lower crime rate and general lower poverty levels in Canadian cities, and this benefits everyone. Critics argue that the taxes required to support the safety net inhibit growth and actually increase the barriers for socio-economic advancement, and that the safety net itself creates a perverse incentive to be unproductive and poor.
A principal part of Canada's social safety net is its universal healthcare, known as Medicare, along with various other social benefit schemes (unemployment insurance, public pensions, etc.).
In South Africa there are grants for people unable to support themselves. Many of the grants are focused on children. Social services administer these grants.