LABOUR Minister Mildred Oliphant has introduced proposals to extend unemployment benefits from 238 to 365 days, says Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.

Delivering his 2014-15 budget vote speech in Parliament on Wednesday, Mr Gordhan sketched out some of the government’s plans to boost youth employment and social assistance grants.

He said unemployment at 24% was still too high despite about 1.3-million jobs having been created since the economic depression of 2008-09.

Mr Gordhan said the youth employment strategy included the stepped-up implementation of the Extended Public Works Programme, along with implementation of the Community Works Programme, in every municipality by 2017,

Mr Gordhan said the introduction of the youth employment tax incentive this year had in its first month recorded 56,000 beneficiaries.

He also mentioned the ramping-up of skills development and support for small and medium-sized enterprises and the Jobs Fund partnerships with private and public sector development agencies as part of the youth employment strategy.

On social assistance grants, Mr Gordhan said the number of people eligible for these was due to reach 16.5-million by 2016-17.

He said the recent reregistration of grant recipients and the introduction of a new payment system have lowered the cost of administration.

A total of 1-million invalid beneficiaries were removed from the system, Mr Gordhan said.

Mr Gordhan announced that old age and disability grants would increase from April by 6.3%, or R80, to R1,350 per month.

The foster care grant would rise from R800 to R830 per month and the child support grant to R310 per month from R300 per month, and then in October to R320 per month.